In healthcare, the greatest concern is always the safety and well-being of the patient, but unfortunately there are frightful circumstances when these priorities get over-looked. It happened in a doctor’s office in Rock Hill, South Carolina. A patient was left in an exam room, unseen by the physician, and locked up as the office closed it’s doors for the business day. The patient had her vitals checked and then she waited, all too patiently, for the doctor to arrive. It never happened.
Busy practices, the rush to get home to family and commitments, as well as lives that are filled with to-do lists growing at rapid speeds, can make it difficult to keep up with all of the demands of the doctor’s office. In healthcare, there is little to no room for error though. Despite these demands, patient safety must remain the focus. It’s difficult to imagine this kind of event happening in your own practice, but could it happen?
Does your practice take all necessary precautions to avoid an event like the one that happened to 61 year old Candida Miller. She was discovered by her son who returned to the practice looking for his mother who never called to tell him that her appointment with the doctor had come to a conclusion. He was frantic and it was not until police arrived to open the doors of the practice that Candida was safely released. She had been in the examining room since 4:15 pm only to be found and let out of the locked building just after 7:00pm.
When you consider the policies and procedures of your practice, do you have safeguards in place to make certain no patient is left behind? Are your exam rooms checked and all patients accounted for? How can you protect your patients and your practice from negligence such as what happened in the above mentioned case? It may seem far-fetched to imagine such a scenario in your own place of business, but without thinking through your own policies and taking the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others, your patients are at risk.
The patient experience is crucial to the vitality of your practice. You may want to review your practice’s policies and guidelines for the patient experience before a crisis has the potential to hit. It’s wise to fix the broken parts before it becomes obvious that they need to be fixed. If you have concerns about the patient experience in your practice, then we encourage you to take action and make the evaluation of your policies, procedures and patient experience goals a priority.
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