Taking care of the frequent flyer patient

We’ve all taken care of the ‘frequent flyer’ patient. Oh, you know who I’m talking about. The non-compliant repeat-offender patient that just can’t seem to get a grasp on self-care. They seem to have a permanent residence in your facility. It becomes a self-defeating act of caring for them and we sometimes grow weary of the repeat cycle. Admitted for the same chronic diagnosis and medical condition because they failed to care for themselves (for one reason or another). Fail could mean many things, the least of which is purposeful refusal to adhere to their medical therapy that has been reviewed with them a dozen times before. But, this could also be the patient that is not understanding of their condition and treatment. We try to ignore our thoughts. We sometimes think don’t care about their own health, because they know if (and when) they fail to care for themselves appropriately… all they have to do is show up in the hospital (again). It’s not a positive or supportive thought… but it’s not something I’m going to deny. Yep, I’ve thought it. Wash – Rinse – Repeat **sigh** I’m here to suggest an alternative way of thinking when caring for that returning repeat re-admission:
Practice makes perfect
Every time something seems ordinary, repetitive or mundane, it’s just more practice to sharpen your skills for that next patient. Do not take this job lightly. Ever. This is supposed to be hard. Lives are at stake. Because the day you let your guard down is when the grim reaper taps on your patient’s window. You will need to coordinate. You will need to calculate. You will need to be aware. You will need your sixth sense. You will need to hustle. You will need to have laser focus on the details without losing sight of the bigger picture. Every time something seems ordinary, repetitive or mundane, it’s just more practice to sharpen your weapons. Learn something every day. Get better at every task you perform. Master the medicine. Manage the mess better than anyone else. Practice makes you better. And perfect practice gets you close to perfect performance. Become efficient. Become resistant. Become resilient.

Someday that next patient will need your A-game. They’ll need your instinct. They’ll need your reflexes. They’ll need your sharp weapon. They’ll need your steadfast spirit. They’ll need you to chew through nails, because the grim reaper will push you to perfect. Be as close to perfect as you can get by grinding it out every single day you are in charge of that next patient’s care… that next patient’s life. Sooner or later that chronic diabetic is going to be in DKA. Sooner or later that chronic kidney disease patient will be in full renal failure. Sooner or later that heart failure patient with be in shock. Sooner or later that next patient is going to need your ‘A’ game. Sooner or later you will be the only thing standing between your patient and the grave. — Keep practicing.
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