Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Role model

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!



Anonymous said...

Hi, Paul. This letter is excellent. It is always nice to hear that a facility is doing a great job. I had an anesthesiologist who was remarkable. He offered his email and responded and even called 2 days and the night before the surgery just to make sure I was going okay. Those physicians are hard to come by when you do they make an extraordinary difference.

I was also hoping to talk to you about placing a link on your site. The link focuses on information regarding cancer. Could you please contact me at curecancer1 at gmail dot come? Thanks so much and I hope you have a wonderful week.

John said...

I echo her praise... congrats Paul!

Dr Wagner is a rare gem, a great blessing to humanity.

Anonymous said...

I've been in healthcare for almost 25 years and have learned to accept a certain level of medical/surgical incompetence. Sad, but true.

We are, however, human and therefore mistakes will be made. I am not trying to make excuses. It is the human condition. What is unique at BIDMC is a willingness to be open and explain situations which in most cases would remain secret and hidden from legal discovery. I applaud Paul Levy and his ability to move into a new realm. He's setting a new standard on the East Coast, which is more than just transparent, it's clearly honest.

Let's hope the rest of the nation follows suit. Thanks, Paul

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness that we still have docs like Dr. Wagner around. He should be doing as much training of residents as possible. :)

Unknown said...

Excellent Letter

The Infininity

Anonymous said...

Hi, Paul,
I have worked in healthcare for many years, and so enjoy your blog!
Andrew Wagner performed a radical nephrectomy on my husband in 2007. I cannot say enough good things about him. I was astounded at his timely response to emails. The doc's at my suburban hospital would say they are "too busy"......but Dr. Wagner told me email is "very much the culture at BIDMC.

Anonymous said...

Nurses at Eden Medical Center in the Bay Area, CA, have made a concerted effort to improve patient quality and safety. The hospital was just awarded a $100k grant for making improvements to prevent pneumonia, acute myo-cardio infarction and surgical infection in patients.

Eden is now officially recognized as one of the Top 400 hospitals for these improvements.

Nurses deserve praise too. They are still the unsung heroes of medical care.