OK, forgive me for that first post. I should've read your profile first.
So I owe you a couple of answers.
What happened to patient care?
You'll find the answers in books like Code Green: Money-Driven Hospitals and the Dismantling of Nursing,
by Dana Beth Weinberg. ISBN: 0801489199
Why is Nursing about customer service?
Nowadays, due to exhorbitant medical costs, hospitals are trying to keep fiscally sound. (Or at least break even.) They're run like businesses. Patients and employees alike understand the concept of "customer." It implies choice
, it implies financial responsibility
, and it implies service.
Nurses and other employees are also defined by the management as "customers."
Since nursing is why a patient would need to be hospitalized, it is all too evident that many customers DO have a choice about which hospital will treat them--at least, the paying ones--and the hospitals want to keep their business. If the nurses can buy into the concept of keeping the patients happy and comfortable in an environment that is less frightening because it has more homelike (or hotel-like) features, then that is for the good of the patient.
My only problem with this is that management does not go far enough in explaining that nurses are NOT personal servants, and while the patient can have SOME leeway with a proscribed course of treatment, this is not to say that the patient will get better simply by occupying space in a hospital room and refusing essential tests, treatments, and procedures.
Perhaps the most important teaching that a nurse can give, on admission, is to outline the Patient's Bill of Rights. At the bottom is the Patient's Responsibilities, which many of them need to hear.
Most patients do not have the ability to choose the facility they are receiving service from, the Insurance companies make the choice, so who is the Customer?
I take that to mean that the insurance company would be the "customer" and not the actual patient. However, any patient has the power to complain to the insurance company about the quality of care of a hospital, and the insurance companies actually are setting the standard of care because of what they'll pay and what they won't pay.
Not surprisingly, most patients are not all that well-educated clinically, so they equate "poor care" with "poor service." Things like multiple IV sticks, long waits, unseen MDs, impatient nurses, or bad food become criteria for "poor care" because they're relatively simple, very basic hospital processes.
And think about it. What sticks in your mind most as a patient, the last time you were one? Was it the lab tech who could not stop jabbing for that vein? Was it the cold eggs? The hunger? The wait for pain meds in the ER?
My dh is still appalled that I was placed into a room that housekeeping hadn't gotten to yet, and there was still trash on the floor and bedside stand. However, being a nurse, and knowing the hospital's ER had been completely slammed so badly they had to divert, I told him to shut up and sit down, because at least I had a private room. He still remembers that and rates the care as "OK." I still remember that they saved my life, and I rate the care as "Excellent."
How do you feel about the concept of patient care verses customer service?
Therefore, I feel that good patient care IS good customer service. What nurse would NOT want her patient to have a clean room, appropriate diet, tasty food, one-stick labs, and a hospital stay as pain-free as possible?
The only problem is, and always has been, ever since the nursing schools
were not part of the hospital, not enough nurses to give this level of care.