Last night, MNA attended a Town Hall meeting in Holt called by Rep. Barb Byrum. The topic was nurse to patient ratios. Reps. Mark Meadows and Joan Bauer also attended.
The room was full of nurses and interested parties. Channels 6 and 3 out of Lansing brought their cameras. All in all, a very successful Town Hall meeting that will hopefully produce momentum towards passing HB 4008, the Safe Patient Care legislation.
I’ve heard low staffing stories from nurses before but I detected a new trend last night – the issue of customer satisfaction. Several of the nurse shared that now patients are being called “customers” and making sure they are “satisfied” is a top priority.
I understand the need to make sure that patients feel as if they have been treated appropriately. I’ve dutifully filled out the surveys that have been sent to me after I’ve been hospitalized and sent them back in. I realize that sometimes patients don’t do that and valuable feedback is lost. However — should the nurses be functioning as customer service representatives?
Frankly, I worry about customer service when I’m out to eat, or picking up my dry cleaning or getting my car fixed. In the hospital, I don’t want service. I want care. With the exception of having my children, I don’t find being a patient in the hospital a terribly pleasant experience. My view of “good customer service” in the hospital is that I want well educated nurses checking on me enough times to make sure that I’m getting well and things are under control.
If a hospital provides enough nurses so that each patient receives the medical attention and education needed, than that will be excellent customer service indeed. Asking nurses to make sure the “customer” is satisfied takes valuable time away from the reason the patient is hospitalized in the first place – appropriate nursing care. In our search for “optimal” patient experiences, we cannot lose sight of the role nursing plays in that process – with the responsibility for assessing customer satisfaction in a department where it rightfully belongs.