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Value Creation Blog

I Wish My Doctors Used Checklists

Posted by Josh Patrick

ChecklistLast winter I had an unfortunate experience.  I was run over by a snowboarder who was going about 40 miles per hour.  Fortunately, I was also moving at around 25 miles per hour.

I get plowed into the snow, lost a ski, wrenched an ankle and had the wind knocked out of me.  I slowly got up and brushed myself off thinking that I was probably pretty lucky.

As winter turned into spring I noticed my foot changing.  It kept getting more and more misshapen.  Eventually I got to the point where I thought going to the doctors was a good idea.

I ended up in the orthopedic practice where they took one look at my foot and told me I had what’s called Charcot Foot.  This condition happens if you have a particular medical condition (peripheral neuropathy) where your foot can fall apart by experiencing a physical trauma.  Getting plowed under by a snowboarder qualifies for the type of trauma I needed.

The long and short of this story is that I’m now back in a medical treatment program that has potential negative effects and requires a relatively long time to treat.

I wish my doctors used checklists.

While being diagnosed the nurse practitioner told me what I had but didn’t tell me what the risks were or what the course of treatment would mean.  I was told that I was going to be in a cast for between three and six months and that was the end of that part of the conversation.

The problem is that I  never had an idea of what being in a cast for six months meant, especially a cast that would be non-weight bearing.  The problems that I found, but was not told about, were the following:

  • I needed to keep all weight off the leg where my cast was.  I had no idea how to do this.
  • I needed to keep my cast dry at all times.  I had a vague idea of how to do this, but wasn’t given really good instructions.
  • I needed to make sure I didn’t gain weight.  With a non-weight bearing cast I would be moving around less.
  • I needed to make sure that I didn’t lose too much physical strength.  I had to ask for a referral to physical therapy.
  • I didn’t know how I was going to drive my car.  I had the cast on my right foot.
  • I didn’t really know how to use crutches or have the strength for using crutches.  I’m 6’5” and weight about 240 pounds.  Moving that much weight around on crutches is a difficult thing.
  • I didn’t know whether I should be taking any supplements to help build my bones.  As it turns out, when I asked the nurse practitioner whether I should take calcium supplements she said I should.

You might see a pattern developing here.  I either was not told, or I had to ask about issues that I was going to be facing over the next six months.  The medical professionals didn’t offer much good advice.  In fact, they didn’t offer much advice at all.

This all could have been easily rectified

All they had to do was use a checklist.  If they had a checklist they could have gone through all of the issues I was going to face.  After all, these issues weren’t new.  I’m sure that everyone who faces an extended period where they can’t put weight on one of their legs has similar issues.

If they had gone through a checklist they could have reduce the number and type of worries I had.  I would have had a better understanding about what I would be going through and would have been better prepared to help with my own healthcare.

I’ve been thinking about this situation as it relates to my business and your business.  How many times would a checklist have helped you communicate better and more completely with your clients?  Would using a checklist help you provide great service?  How many times would a checklist help your employees provide consistent service to your customers?

The medical business really needs to use checklists.  We probably should consider how we could use them also.  What do you think?

We’ve written a case study on the 7 Steps of Leaving Your Business.  You might consider reading this case study and seeing how a checklist might help you as you think about the eventual transfer of your business.  And yes, there will eventually be a transfer of your business.  To get this case study click on the button below.

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Topics: systems, communication, learning experiences, specialists

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