Sep 28, 2010

A personal story about quality

Happy Birthday Open School! My mom and I have both had the privilege of being involved with IHI Open School. She is a physician and professor, and serves as the proud faculty advisor to a chapter in Ohio. I served as a chapter leader while I was a nurse practitioner student at Yale Nursing School.

This past summer we became more intimately familiar with the importance of quality in our medical system than either of us would have liked.

My mom suffers from Parkinson’s disease and had progressed to the point where the disease was getting difficult to manage medically. After a great deal of consideration, our family decided that our best course of action would be for her to undergo the deep brain stimulation surgery. To shorten a very long and painful story, I will say that she got the surgery but endured multiple complications (including a faulty generator, a life threatening infection, and extra fairly high risk surgeries). At the worst times, she was unable to speak or move due to infection in her brain. We did not know what kind of recovery she would make. In addition to being terrified that we may never know our mom as we once knew her, her team had to take everything they had put in her brain, out. Four months later she is still on antibiotics and is still not sure if or when she will be able to do the surgery again. She has not been able to work, something that is very important to her. We are very hopeful but we still have a long way to go and the process thus far has left us shaken.

I share this very personal story so that we may be reminded once again of the importance of the work that we are doing. People trust us to take care of them. I cannot think of something that deserves more humility, respect, and appreciation. Procedures and physicals become routine to each of us. We have days that we are tired or distracted. But for each patient we see, let’s promise that we will treat them like they are the only person we see that day.

So from my mom and me, THANK YOU for caring about quality in care. Please keep up the good work. Happy Birthday IHI Open School.