Over the past few weeks, our family has been put in the patient care continuum – with our daughter developing an infection post-surgery to fix a broken arm. Thankfully we continue to be on the mend, but from someone who considers himself ‘somewhat knowledgeable’ about the healthcare process – I learned a tremendous amount from this experience.

First off, we are very lucky to live in the Boston area and have access to some of the world’s best hospitals and doctors. Thank you Boston Children’s Hospital.

Disparate Systems within One Network

From the ER to orthopedics and infectious disease, our daughter was seen by a wide variety of medical professionals. Walking away from this experience, one thing was clear – care coordination needs to be top of mind for healthcare providers. We noticed on many occasions the left hand did not exactly know what was going on with the right hand. This translated into missed labs, super delayed rounds by orthopedic surgeons and overall lack of coordination between the hospital, insurance company and visiting nurse organizations.

Yes, there were lots of moving parts to care for our daughter. But as dire a situation as it was for the Smiths, we are thinking this was middle of the road patient care considering the other patients in the hospital.

Nurses Make Care Better

Perhaps the most striking observation was how well nurses relate to their pediatric patients, while residents have little understanding of how to connect. There was little eye contact and asking about our daughter’s stuffed animal (who she always had a death grip around when the MD walked in) prior to his or her need to assess progress. Charlotte quickly determined who was friendly and who was there for business purposes only. Upon asking a nurse, we learned that the residents have little interest in speaking with families or nurses prior to entering the room to even gauge what is going on and the current mood and health status of the patient.

It takes a special person to be a doctor. The amount of time, sacrifice and money to earn an MD is tremendous. However, bedside manner with all patients is necessary. We have had many ups and downs on this clinical journey – with more to go – but one thing has been very clear. Nurses care; they understand their patients and are wonderful at not only caring for the patient, but also the patient’s families.

Beyond the nurses, the Child Life Specialists were an incredibly bright spot during our stay at the hospital. Not only did they help Charlotte cope with her fear and anxiety of doctors, they provided a fun and engaging environment for her to play in and even coordinated a visit from Tucker, a very friendly golden retriever.