Lynn Pierce’s husband suffered a heart attack at age 40.
In the emergency department of an unfamiliar hospital, nurses barred her from the treatment room. She was only a few feet away, in the waiting room, when he died.
“How could they let my boyfriend since age 13 die alone?” she asked, as she addressed an audience of about 150 nurses at the Evidence Based Nursing Practice Council and Quality and Safety Combined Retreat on April 27 at the John H. Ammon Medical Education Center.
Pierce is a consultant at Healthcare Performance Improvement, a Virginia-based firm that specializes in improving human performance using evidence-based methods derived from high-risk industries. She has more than 30 years’ experience as a registered nurse.
During her keynote presentation titled “Patient-Centered, High Quality, Safe Care: Doing the Right Thing,” Pierce said that in this era of sweeping reforms in health care, nurses play a leading role in implementing positive change, offering professionalism, responsiveness and, above all, compassion.
Pierce encouraged nurses to embrace compassion and customer service in delivering care to patients and their families, who are likely to be confused and frightened by their illness or injury.
“We have to back up and say ‘what makes a great nurse?’ What if that person has all the skills you might ever need, but the attitude is bad?
“How long is too long to wait when you’re in pain?” she asked. “We have patients out there who are saying ‘comfort me. Don’t make me wait.’
She emphasized the importance of initiatives like hourly rounding, as well as safety tools and procedures such as phonetic and numeric clarification.
“It’s got to be 15, then ‘one-five,’ because 15 and 50 sound so much alike,” she said. “When things don’t feel just right, it’s our job to question that.”