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We got the opportunity to use our communication skills from our Bradley™ training over the weekend. It is always a good reminder that the skills we teach in class can serve us long after labor and birth.
Our Angelika was in the hospital with an infection in her neck. It looked like a big boil, and as it turns out it was filled with pus and she needed minor surgery. As we navigated the hospital system, here are the things we teach in class that we applied over the weekend.
Trust your instincts. I have small, crazy veins that work well as long as you are not trying to poke them for an IV. I had a feeling that Angelika was the same as I, and I told our nurse that I was concerned they were going to blow out her veins unless they used the smallest needle. I also asked for an anesthesiologist to do her IV line and save us a lot of trouble. Even though we never used their skills for an epidural, they were the best at sticking me with the needles for an IV when we were in labor.
The hospital staff is trying to do their job. I needed to hear this after the nurses completely ignored my concerns and went ahead and did the IV their own way. After blowing out two of Angelika’s veins, I was fit to be tied, and Bruss reminded me that they were only trying to follow their protocol and not get in trouble.
Ask for the help you need. Bruss could see my frustration and he looked for the charge nurse to ask for her help. He explained that the staff was not hearing our requests and he asked for alternatives to consider if the IV was not going to work. She convinced him that IV antibiotics were the best chance Angelika had for getting the highest dose of antibiotics she needed to head off an abscess.
Ask for written information. Between being stressed, tired, and having a hard time understanding some of the staff, I felt like I was just nodding and agreeing without knowing what I was hearing. A great question we teach our couples to ask in class is, "Can you write that down for me?" Remembering that little nugget was a big help in learning exactly what our baby was being administered and what they were going to do with the precious little blood they were able to extract for lab tests.
Communication between the couple is essential. I could tell that Bruss was upset with me. I used my words to ask him what he was upset about and to please tell me what he saw our options to be. He articulated that he thought I was being unfair to the nurses who were only trying to do their job, and he also conveyed the information from the charge nurse. Since we both wanted what was best for our daughter, I agreed that they could try one more method to try to get an IV line in. And we compromised by agreeing that if they couldn’t get it in on the third try, then we would be a united front in telling the staff that they were done trying and we were going to insist on intramuscular injections to get her the antibiotics she needed…since we were now five hours past her last scheduled dose.
Advocate for your child. I knew that I knew that she did not have the kind of veins that are easy to work with. Unfortunately, I had to prove myself at our daughter’s expense. However, after having followed the nurse’s protocol, I also had the standing to insist they were not going to submit our child to any more poking unless it was done by the anesthesiologist. As a parent, (or a patient), you have the right to say no to any suggested treatment and ask for the kind of care that you know your child (or you) need. If they are not willing to provide that care, then keep going up the ladder of command until you get the help you need.
As it turns out, Angelika did have an abscess and surgery was our chosen treatment plan to deal with the infection and start her on the path to healing. We finally got the right person to do her IV line – the anesthesiologist did it after she was sedated in the operating room.
The anesthesiologist, with the benefit of having more open veins after the administration of anesthesia, was able to get an IV line in with only two tries. Angelika got her surgery, and then got four doses of IV antibiotics. We were released the day after surgery and are now happily at home recuperating with the rest of the family.
When we were discussing our concerns with our surgeon at our follow up visit, he reminded me of a very important distinction in hospitals. If you are at a teaching hospital, and you are concerned that you are not receiving the kind of care your child needs, insist on seeing the attending physician. A teaching hospital lets the least trained doctors learn by making diagnosis and having it signed off by the most senior level doctor. If that process is not what you want, ask for the most senior care provider when you sign into the hospital.
We were not at a teaching hospital, our issue was more of an administrative one. I was glad we had tools to make our interactions less abrasive than they could have been. In the end, we were happy with the level of care we received after our surgery.
Last but not least, remember to say thank you. We know that the people at the hospital were only trying to do their best at the job according to the rules set down by the hospital. The surgery staff was amazing, our doctor/surgeon was amazing, and we thanked them all before we left the hospital. In addition, they will be getting thank you notes later this week to remind them how much we appreciate their dedication in what is often a thankless job.
In which situations have your communication skills come in handy?
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.