Stories about: medical education

Communication and the patient experience: On being present, not perfect

Clinical excellence is the foundation of patient care. But at a recent TEDx Longwood event, Elaine C. Meyer, PhD, RN, co-founder and director of the Institute for Professionalism and Ethical Practice at Boston Children’s Hospital and an Associate Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School, offered insight on the other half of the health care equation: the human connection and the power of conversation.

Meyer’s moving presentation makes clear how communication—listening and sharing words of comfort—profoundly impacts patient experiences, as does its absence. Through heartfelt stories, including her own experience as a patient, her talk empowers physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists and other medical staff to “be present” and communicate with patients and families compassionately.

“Dig deep, find your inspiration to have conversations,” Meyer says, because patients remember the words spoken to them and how those words made them feel.

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Improving patient safety: Overcoming clinical biases and misperceptions

Context can create bias: Squares A and B are the same shade of gray (created by Edward Adelson, professor of vision science, MIT)

Before you read this post, look at squares A and B in the image to the left. Which is darker?

Next, answer the following questions:

  1. A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? 
  2. If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets? 
  3. In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake? 

Did your mind leap to these quick answers — 10 cents, 100 minutes, 24 days?

Such errors on this Cognitive Reflection Test are quite common, and not so different from the lapses in thinking that underlie medical errors.

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