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Should hospitals that treat adults adopt a pediatric approach, from paint colors to practice patterns? One Penn Medicine medical student thinks so. The result could be improved patient quality of life, satisfaction, and health outcomes, he says.
“Adult hospitals, as they begin to fully realize the importance of the environment to a vulnerable patient’s well-being, can take a page from the pediatric playbook by creating surroundings that distract and reduce stress, and by making clinical practices more patient and family-oriented rather than more convenient for the caretakers,” said Mark Attiah, who wrote a piece titled “Treat me Like a Child,” that was published in the Aug. 21, 2013, JAMA.
Physicians approach adult patients as though they are seasoned veterans who easily can cope with the challenges of being ill in an alien environment, although this situation often isn’t the case. “The truth is that without help, most people, regardless of their age, aren’t naturally good at being patients,” Attiah wrote.
His observations of the pediatric setting in include no white coats. Bright and cheerful. Longer visiting hours, and families can stay overnight at the bedside. And distractions. Lots of them. Group activities, concerts, and more. “If I ever get sick, I’d want to be taken here,” Attiah wrote.
But there’s more. Families are almost always involved in codes and even call codes themselves. Families are treated as though they are equal parts of the healthcare team. And this approach doesn’t increase liability or interfere with medical care, Attiah wrote.
“This is not a call to place a large teddy bear in every hospital bed and a bounce house in every lobby,” Attiah writes. “We do, however, need to recognize that the environment, the practice patterns, and the mission of a hospital make a direct difference in patient care that can be measured not only in smiles and thank-you notes, but tangible patient outcomes that even hospital administrators can get behind.”
Consider these other ideas from pediatric care, written up in the August issue of our own Same-Day Surgery newsletter:
What do you do at your facility for pediatric patients? Could these ideas be transplanted into your adult population? Feel free to share ideas below.