What Does Patient Care Mean to You?

What does “patient care” mean to you? It is safe to say that everyone (or a loved one) has required medical care at one time or another. The meaning of “patient care” became clear to me when I answered a local want ad for mock jury trial jurors. Nurses General Nursing Article

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What Does Patient Care Mean to You?

Mock Jury Trial Case Facts

  • Jurors were chosen based on their answers to various questions about their lives.
  • A local teenager suffered a high school sport foot injury and had routine surgery to repair it.
  • The teenager was permanently paralyzed from the waist down due to the doctor's error.
  • The doctor was found guilty of negligence and mock jurors were to determine a settlement amount for the teenager.
  • The prosecuting and defending attorneys were at the mock jury trial but the operating doctor and teenager were not.
  • The teenager's lifetime medical bills would be paid in full by the doctor's employer.
  • The dollar amount decided on by the jurors was to last the teenager's lifetime.
  • It was unknown if the teenager could work/maintain employment.

Jury Group Details

  • Jurors were divided into smaller groups with 6 preselected jurors in each group.
  • Each group was to agree on a final dollar amount in the specified time allowed.
  • Jury groups were individually videotaped for future reference at upcoming court negotiation sessions.
  • One specific juror in my group was insistent about not going above her suggested award amount of $80,000.
  • This juror admitted she had been in a car accident and had sued for damages and a jury awarded her the total sum of $80,000.
  • Said juror stated, "Well, that's all I got, so I think that's all she should get.”

I suddenly realized that I needed to advocate for this teenager who was not there to speak for herself.

Advocacy for the Teenager

  • I pointed out that said juror was not permanently paralyzed from her car accident and thus it was not the same.
  • Costs for lifetime handicap-accessible housing, wherever the teenager lived, will be excessive.
  • Expensive adaptive equipment, such as wheelchairs, etc. will need to be routinely replaced.
  • Lifetime motor vehicle modifications for handicapped/wheelchair accessibility will be high-priced.
  • If the medical facility closes or is sold, the teenager's lifetime medical bills will no longer be paid for.
  • Travel expenses to doctor appointments and specialized care facilities not close to the teenager's home will be costly.
  • It was unknown if long-term care was being paid for by the doctor's employer along with her medical bills.
  • I repeated that this sum of money will have to pay for everything the teenager will ever need in her lifetime.

Mock Jury Trial Outcome

I convinced the jurors in my group to agree on a higher amount than $80,000 but did not get it high enough for what I believed this girl deserved.

This experience greatly inspired my decision to become an RN. I went on to enroll as a non-traditional nursing student at the age of 40. Advocating for the patient became the driving force for me as a nursing student, registered nurse and nursing instructor.

However, advocating for a patient's choice is not always popular and oftentimes is not even considered an option. That's why patient education is very important in helping patients choose what medical care they believe is best for them. An advanced directive is also very important to help make the patient's choices known to their family and their healthcare team. It also prevents family members from having to make difficult medical decisions during times of crisis.

Every human being has the right to live their life with dignity, respect and freedom of choice, no matter how painful those choices may be and even if we don't agree with those choices.

Patient advocacy is what patient care means to me. What does patient care mean to you? And most importantly, how will it define who you will become (or are) as a caregiver, nurse or healthcare provider?

Kim Coopman PHN has 13 years experience as a BSN, RN.

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