In this essay, I shall attempt to reflect on the patient’s experience and aspects of the appointment from which I can learn, in order to become a more competent professional. I chose to interview three patients as a practitioner performed a capillary blood gas measurement.
The patients I questioned for the purpose of this reflective document had had this test performed before, and so there wasn’t a particular part of this procedure which worried them prior to the appointment, as they were due to perform many other tests. The information patients were provided was limited to a letter, but the patient was not entirely clear what the test entailed.
They reported that there was not a specific part of the procedure they found unpleasant, but they did find that when the practitioner mentioned needles they were slightly worried, and it also worried them when the practitioner had to repeat the procedure many times in the same appointment. From my observations, I felt the most unpleasant aspect of the appointment was the needles, as it was the only invasive part, but also the “peg” that the practitioner placed on the ear on top of some tissues to stop the flow of blood from the patient’s ear, especially if the patient had taken medication such as warfarin, as this could mean they have the peg on for some time. The results the practitioner obtained were summarised on a letter directed to the patient’s GP, but the patient was informed of the results in the form of constructive advice and directions regarding usage of their ambulatory oxygen.
One patient entered the clinic out of breath and reached for his inhaler as he sat down. The nurse allowed the patient time to settle and spoke reassuringly to calm him. She questioned the patient about his use of ambulatory oxygen and other contraindications, including his exercise regime, and informed the patient of his results in conjunction with advice with regards to fitness that may improve his cardiovascular health. The nurse practiced empathy and patience, in addition to using language which, I felt, built a rapport with him as well as discovering more information relevant to his condition and health.
There were some communication difficulties with another patient as he was unable to articulate fully, so his sister spoke for him for the most part. The patient was prescribed 16 hours per day of ambulatory oxygen but was only using it for 10 hours a day. This patient and his sister were very concerned with the relevance of the tests to his queried condition. The nurse and I worked together to calm them and explain the purpose of these procedures and the relevance of a query. He was diagnosed with COPD with query pulmonary hypertension. As the nurse tried to explain why the pulmonary hypertension was more relevant to this procedure than the COPD, I explained the basic principles, that pulmonary hypertension was when oxygen is not absorbed into the blood capillaries as well as it should be, due to the speed at which the blood travels through the vessels. They understood and as the nurse answered further questions, I found this greatly alleviated their concerns. From this experience, I have learned that the skills you acquire as a medical professional and the manner in which you handle patients greatly affects their experience and worries. In effect, I felt the nurse’s communication skills allowed her to ease distressed patients by trying to manage any problems that had arisen, and also by providing solutions such as recommending this patient to attempt to take 16 hours of oxygen every day, rather than the reduced amount in response to low oxygen readings. I also found that working as a team, the nurse and I were able to instil a greater level of order in the clinic, and this may aid in the patient’s perception of the practitioner’s competence in the future.
In conclusion, I learned that patient’s worries tend to materialise from uncertainty, and it is our responsibility as medical professionals to use our skills to inform them to the best of our ability. I have noticed, worries, such as needles, were expressed before the patient had seen the needle itself. Patient’s will have many questions and the way we answer these and the professionalism that is adhered to, under stress, is testament to our competence. Something I will use in future practice is informing patient’s sufficiently about impending procedures, and the importance of good communication between myself and patients, and myself and other colleagues in order to maintain an efficient team.