Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hospital Sorry for Shaving Sikh's Beard

I was about to blog on news regarding a hospital who recently shaved off a Sikh patient's beard, without his consent - however, a blogger (also friend) did an excellent job covering this issue and I will link to his cover of it. Here is his post, you can view it directly here.

A tragic story came from BC this week about a elderly Sikh patient's beard being shaven off during his stay at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminister.
B.C.'s Fraser Health Authority has apologized for shaving a 70-year-old man's beard -- something forbidden by his Sikh religion. It happened during an overnight shift at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. The Health Authority says the nurse, who recently came from out of province, feels terrible about the incident. "We are very sorry on behalf of Royal Columbian Hospital that this happened," says spokesperson Mariam Stewart. "There have been numerous memos going out to other intensive care units and hospitals in Fraser Health of the fact that, with the beard, the beard is very, very important." (Link)
The worst part is that the Sikh was in hospital after being shot during an earlier robbery at at a Surrey gas station. The victim's son in law says the senior has been victimized twice by what the hospital has done.
"My father in law -- he's been killed twice," says Surjit Singh Virk. "To me, his pride, his honour, his belief -- everything taken away from him. It's very shocking."
The family says they will file a complaint against the hospital and are asking the Health Authority to implement a policy so something like this won't happen again.

I know that the William Osler Health Centre and specifically Brampton Civic Hospital has put a lot of effort into educating their hospital staff to the diversity of their patients. I also know their new mantra isn't the Golden Rule but the Platinum Rule, do unto others as they would want done to them. Sikhs in Illinois helped the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council prepare a document entitled "Guidelines For Health Care Providers Interacting With Patients Of The Sikh Religion and Their Families". This is a great document that can be used as a template for providing something for your local hospital. Sikh-Canadians have donated millions of dollars to hospital foundations across the country. With these efforts, Sikhs also need to engage their local hospitals to ensure these kind of tragedies are prevented.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Arrogant, Abusive and Disruptive — and a Doctor

Some doctors seem to get a bad rep for being intimidating and well, not very friendly. It seems that sort of behavior is not just uncouth but it's also dangerous - an article from the New York Times suggests that doctors' disruptive behavior is leading to potential medical errors and putting their patients' lives at risk.
A survey of health care workers at 102 nonprofit hospitals from 2004 to 2007 found that 67 percent of respondents said they thought there was a link between disruptive behavior and medical mistakes, and 18 percent said they knew of a mistake that occurred because of an obnoxious doctor. Another survey by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a nonprofit organization, found that 40 percent of hospital staff members reported having been so intimidated by a doctor that they did not share their concerns about orders for medication that appeared to be incorrect. As a result, 7 percent said they contributed to a medication error.
Seeing the potential patient safety issues in this sort of behavior, the Joint Commission is now requiring hospitals to develope a code of conduct and to enforce it.
There are signs, however, that such abusive behavior is less likely to be tolerated. Physicians and nurses say they have seen less of it in the past 5 or 10 years, though it is still a major problem, and the Joint Commission is requiring hospitals to have a written code of conduct and a process for enforcing it.Still, every nurse has a story about obnoxious doctors. A few say they have ducked scalpels thrown across the operating room by angry surgeons. More frequently, though, they are belittled, insulted or yelled at — often in front of patients and other staff members — and made to feel like the bottom of the food chain. A third of the nurses in Dr. Rosenstein’s study were aware of a nurse who had left a hospital because of a disruptive physician.
It doesn't come at much of a surprise then when we read statistics that show a lack of clear communication is responsible for over 60% of medical errors. Read more here.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Jaago on World AIDS Day

[From The Langar Hall] Today is World AIDS Day. The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is leadership and efforts are focused on prevention. Indeed, on this 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day, President-elect Obama has stated that his administration will focus on prevention and treatment for at-risk communities in the U.S. and rest of the world. World AIDS Day, is the day when organisations from around the world come together to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic. In 2007, there were 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS. Women account for 50% of all adults living with HIV worldwide and young people (under 25 years old) account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide. In line with the theme of leadership which is the message of this year’s anniversary, I came across AIDS Jagoo - an effort by Mira Nair and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - to bring together Indian directors and actors to create four short dramatic films that aim to “dismantle myths and misconceptions of HIV/AIDS.” The four AIDS Jagoo films come from various parts of India - each its own genre and with a different point of view on the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Migration, directed by Mira Nair, discusses HIV/AIDS from an urban/rural angle. Blood Brothers, directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, follows the journey of a young man from a positive HIV diagnosis to the eye-opening conclusion. Prarambha (The Beginning), directed by Santosh Sivan, deals with society’s prejudices against people with AIDS through the journey of a young boy’s search for his mother. Positive, directed by Farhan Akhtar, shows a family coping with AIDS and reveals the courage they bring to overcome the tragedy. Most of the films have subtitles. Hopefully you’ll be able to watch some or all of these and join the global community in remembering those impacted by HIV/AIDS.