We Do

The next time you are in a doctor’s office or hospital for an appointment for either yourself or a loved one, think about this:  What would you do if the appointment room you were in was filthy?  How would that make you feel?  Would you still be comfortable having the doctor see you with the trash in the room overflowing and dirty floors and counters?  What about if the air conditioner in your appointment room is broken in the middle of a heat wave or the heater in the room is broken in the dead of winter? Would you stay in the room and let the doctor still see you?

Let’s say the housekeeper from environmental services didn’t clean the exam room and the HVAC guys from physical plant didn’t fix the heater in the room either.  The patient, annoyed and uncomfortable, leaves the appointment.  Because the patient left the appointment, they weren’t able to get their radiology testing done.  Since there are no radiology results, the doctor is unable to determine what further testing needs to be done and is unable to order any lab tests.  With no lab tests requested, the nurse has no samples to draw and the lab has no samples to run.  Because the lab wasn’t able to perform any testing, the pharmacist is now unsure if the medication the patient is taking is the right dose.  Now, if the room was clean and the heater was fixed, we would be telling a different story.

The point I’m trying to make is that in healthcare everyone matters.  Doctors aren’t better than nurses, nurses aren’t better than lab professionals and pharmacists aren’t better than environmental services.  There isn’t a hierarchy of who is the most important person in healthcare.  We are all important and play a vital role in patient care, and if just one piece of the puzzle goes missing, the system falls apart.

Early this month the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) released its new ad campaign, “Doctors That DO.”  Their new ads say things like, “An X-ray doesn’t see you as a person. I DO,” and “Lab tests don’t care. I DO.”  Many people felt that these ads were an attack on other health professionals, namely radiology and the laboratory.  I do not believe these ads were meant to be an attack or a way to show that DO’s are better than other healthcare professionals.  Personally, I think their true message became lost in translation and the ads could have been worded better.

As these ads started to appear on social media, many lab professionals criticized the ads for being disrespectful to the lab.  Many people emailed the AOA and posted to their Facebook page with complaints about the new ads.  When I saw that people were doing this, it did make me happy.  I was glad to see people standing up and showing pride in their profession.  On the flip side, however, I did have some concerns that some lab professionals would come across to DO’s as looking like they were trying to put down other health professions.  The moral of the story here is not “I do,” or “They do,” it’s “We do.”  A doctor does not treat a patient, a lab professional does not diagnosis a patient and a pharmacist does not cure a patient, but the healthcare team does.

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