A letter like the following is a wonderful affirmation of what people here at BIDMC try to do. I reprint it with permission of the patient. I embed the link to the Globe article for those of you who haven't seen it.
This morning, I read the Boston Globe article about transparency, errors and surgery at BI and was compelled to write to you about the remarkable experience I had 4 weeks ago when I had a radical nephrectomy (based on a Dx of a 9 cm renal cell carcinoma) at BI performed by Andrew Wagner. I’ve been in healthcare for over 30 years and before I met Dr. Wagner my opinion of surgeons was probably stereotypical although reinforced with actual experience. That is, if I talked to a med student who said they were interested in becoming a surgeon I had one of two reactions. The first was “Good, he/she should definitely have limited contact with conscious people,” and the second was “What a waste…he/she would be great with people.”
Dr. Wagner caused me to re-think those assumptions as he is as extraordinary in his people skills as he is technically. His technical skills were evidenced by my recovery. Upon leaving the hospital I didn’t take as much as a single Advil. To me, that means that he moved my organs so minimally they didn’t even know he was there!
It was his humanity, though, that left a profound impression on me and caused me to trust him absolutely. Some examples…..
His first sentence to me was “I am so sorry this happened to you;” and he meant it! After a few minutes of conversation, he asked if anyone accompanied me to the appointment. I responded that my husband and closest friend did and he asked for their names. He then left the room and went to get them. He didn’t ask a nurse or a secretary to do it…he brought them in himself. He gave me his email address and responded when I had questions. Finally, he called me the night before the surgery (a Sunday evening) to ask if I had any last minute questions or any anxiety that he could help with. I have never heard of a surgeon doing that and neither have my doc friends.
If you were responsible for bringing him to BI, congratulations…you hired a brilliant mensch!
My total experience at BI was a good one although as with any patient-hospital interaction, there could be improvement. I responded to the BI ambulatory care survey with some observations and recommendations. I hope to hear if there are any changes in process. Specifically, using your clinical decision support technology as a partial proxy for patient advocacy would be a great strategy. I’m attaching that survey response in case you’re interested…
Anyway, thought you might want to hear about an extraordinary physician…what a role model for the rest of the clinical staff!