Hello my name is...

There's a very good campaign going on the in NHS at the moment, reminding our healthcare professionals of the importance of introducing themselves, and how this can help patients to feel less intimidated by the surroundings they find themselves in.  The campaign homepage is here: http://hellomynameis.org.uk/

Knowing about the campaign and the positive impact it had I was surprised when a recent MRI didn't include the introductions, either in the formula of "Hello my name is" or any variant. Which is where being a stroppy soul kicked in, whilst its a nicety for me, for others it can make a real difference.  So I emailed the patient services team, and very quickly got emailed back by the head of radiology.  At no point did I say this was a complaint, it genuinely is feedback on how they could provide a better service.  A couple of emails latter, and a telephone chat, I know the team has been reminded of the importance of these little things.  I've also been asked to send in a patient journey to act as a case study for them to use. Which I've copied below - noisy my usual blog-fare but hopefully an insight for those who've not had an MRI.

And its also a plea, the current crop of managers in the NHS do seem to get the need for treating patients as people, as don't berate, educate.  Unless it is truly poor, then berate as much as you need to..

TTFN

Paul

The Patient Journey – MRI

I’m an expert patient, I’m a peer-group advocate, and I’m a confident mid-career professional. In some parts of the interweb I’m loved, in others I’m hated. I’ve been recognised for my efforts with an MBE, and I get the most “reward” out of my role as an expert patient by working behind the scenes on expert groups trying to set standards and guidelines to improve my impairment group’s care.

So, why does it matter to me that a team in my local hospital didn’t introduce themselves.

The MRI is the most lonely of tests, the echo you can have a chat with the person grinding the probe into your chest to get a good angle, the ECG it’s the usual joke about a hairy chest, the 24h ECG is the bemused conversation about is it ok to go for a run/climb/walk wearing it.

The MRI there is none of that. It’s you in a tube.

The pre-scan process is almost designed to make you vulnerable, you give your name to a stranger, another stranger calls your name and tells you to strip to your underwear and put on a gown flappy bit forward, and sit in a small room and wait. However confident you are that wait in your underwear is an age. Then the nameless stranger comes and you places all of the material goods that identify you as you in a locker and you enter a room that looks like the cross between a Bond villain’s toy of choice and a torpedo launcher.

The analogy with the Bond villain continues as you’re wired up – experience tells me what some of the attachments are for, but nothing else.  I’m then Velcro strapped to the deck, a large plate holding me down.  My legs are elevated, again I think this is to help me to be comfortable, but I’m not sure.

There’s a brief discussion about whether you can have some music to distract you, I’ve been here before, 40 minutes of breathing in, breathing out, and hold… any distraction is good, even indi-pop.

I’m slid in, and the process starts, the clunks, the inability to scratch the itch, the slight crick in your back… Then after minutes the deck slides you out again,  The machine needs resetting, something has gone wrong.  There’s surprise from my radiology team as I ask if I can sit up, and stretch my back out.

And so we start again, this time there’s no music, just the whirrs and clunks, the mechanical woman’s voice is getting irritating, the time between breathing out and holding seems to be getting shorter – I’m also a runner so have a reasonable lung capacity – and I’m trying to hold on a ¾ breath.

Time stops, the itches multiple, you try not to move as you know that will mean a repeat and more time in this damn tube.  For those with an interest in class eco-SciFi, this is my Gom Gabbar , the test of a humans ability to defeat their own instincts for the good (Dune is a classic, please read it!).

I lose count of the breathe in, breathe out, and hold cycles. My thoughts turn to fears, have they found something they want a closer look at, they get less rational – have they gone for lunch and are leaving me here as a prank.

And still I want to scratch my nose, my knee, my chest…

And then it is over.

I’m slid out, un-strapped, taken to my locker and given my clothes back. I ask if I can see the pictures, some evidence of what’s been done, and am told no the consultant will talk me through them.  This misses the point, these are photos of my heart, a heart that been operated on when I was kid and who keeps going through multi-day hike, marathons and all of the other adventures I’ve had. I also have access to a 3D printer, and I’m sure I’d be able to get an interesting paperweight made up!

That afternoon though it was back to work, straight into the final meeting before delivering a workshop for 30 colleagues, the confidence had to come back quickly.

Would someone telling me their name help? Yes. It’s a professional courtesy that would allow me to ask the questions about what’s going on, would give me a smidgeon of confidence back, allow me to think of myself of a person rather than a slab of meat in machine.

Paul
Paul Willgoss MBE BSc PgDip

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