How Good Am I?

How good of a paramedic are you?  Have you ever wondered?  Well, lucky for you there is some proof in the numbers.  Getting an idea of how well a paramedic does their job is not as hard as some people think, and with a little bit of research it is easy to figure out how successful your patient care is.  

With data collection what it is today, one can look at things like their IV and intubation success rates, or their time to STEMI recognition or even their scene times for trauma calls to make sure that they are, in fact, within the Platinum Ten.  The rest of the job though you are going to have to judge from yourself, from your gut, or simply ask your partner: “how good am I with my patients?”  Bedside manner might be the most vital skill that we all possess in our toolbox and while tools such as patient surveys might give a single provider or a service a better idea of how much compassion and empathy their employees show towards their patients it is largely immeasurable.

When talking about employee surveys with a colleague a few years ago, he told me that from his experience with them they were largely polarized.  The surveys that were returned from patients usually either gave a glowing, favorable review of the providers or a scathing dissertation of how poorly they were treated.  Those people who fell largely in the middle rarely said that the care was “just okay.”  One is left to assume then that all of those unreturned surveys, sometimes three out of every four, reflected that the providers did in fact do nothing more than an adequate job.

Adequate should not be viewed as a bad thing, and don’t think that I am trying to paint that picture.  Lets face it: you are not going to be able to please everyone, and someone who is sick or injured will most likely be exponentially more difficult to satisfy.  

When reviewing patient feed back, I have seen all sorts of complaints: “The ride was too bumpy” “the driver took a longer route to the hospital than he had to” “the IV was painful when he put it in” or “they did not do anything for me.”  Sometimes, with those difficult patients we just need to cut our losses, put a smile on our faces and do the best we can with them.

From a management stand point though, was there anything wrong with any of those complaints that I just listed?  Was there anything that could have been done differently?  Maybe, and maybe not, but just because there was one little SNAFU with a call, that does not mean that the care that was provided was not top notch, but in the view of the patient, that little slip up will change their impression of everything that is done for them.

I call it the tale of two paramedics:

Paramedic #1 could walk on water.  They are one of the best clinicians that every set foot in an ambulance.  The problem however, is they have no bed side manner.  None.  So when taking care of the critically ill patient, they could make the difference of life and death, and because of their attitude, family or the patient themselves will file a complaint about them.

Paramedic #2 is not nearly as good of a clinical paramedic as their colleague but they are one heck of a hand holder.  They could take care of that same critically ill patient and do nothing for them, not even put oxygen on them, and they could just sit there with the patient, hold their hand, and talk them through the toughest experience of their life.  Clinically, the patient was not provided for at the same level, but this paramedic will receive a compliment for how compassionate they are.

Breaking down that clinical vs compassion wall with most patients is not always easy.  What we need to do on a personal level is be humble enough to look at our partners and say “how did I do?”  We need to critically look, not only at the clinical care that we provide, but also at the compassion that we show for those we encounter and no one can better tell us about that than that person who has a front row seat every day.  Ask your partner, see what they think and share your opinion with them.

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