Before entering Physical Therapy (PT) school, I had the opportunity of participating in multidisciplinary teams in a hospital-based setting. I would attend team meetings with the therapist I was shadowing twice a week. I got to get a glimpse of the importance of everyone’s facts and knowledge coming together in one room. Each individual discipline brought something different from their own profession and it all came together to make more informed decisions about the patients. What I never thought of, however, was the need for family members to be included in this. I also was not aware of the large lack of communication that occurs with family members in the hospital.
This past semester, I had a realization of how important it is, not only for team members to communicate with each other, but also for them to communicate with the family. I was shadowing for an acute care visit a few weeks ago when I encountered a patient who had a code called on her earlier in the morning. She was deemed stable by the physicians, however, she was moved to the cardiac floor so that they could keep an eye on her.
With all of this in mind, I was a bit hesitant, even after being reassured that the patient had stable vitals, to go and try to get her out of bed. When the therapist, my classmate and I entered the room, however, the family got very anxious and insisted that physical therapy could not get her out of bed because her heart wasn’t stable. The son insisted that no one had said it was okay for her to stand up yet. Upon asking, we found out that no one had actually talked to this poor family. There was such a lack of communication that the family had been sitting anxiously, waiting for news of if their mother was going to be okay.
With that being said, I feel like we all definitely go into our field with the intention to make the most beneficial impact. We want to help lives through our competence and all the things we learned in school. What this experience has taught me, however, is that the most important thing is to put the patients and their families first, showing them that healthcare providers care and are trustworthy when they need us most. We have to work on making our priority the patients and their needs and talk to them so they know what’s going on!