Friday, April 1, 2016

Book review: right of reply

We received the following response to our short review of the book An Insider’s Guide to Getting the Best out of the Health System. Our review was on our Newsletter in February and also on the HCCA blog.

Dear Ms Kerdo,

I read your review of my book with interest, and while I welcome the positive comments you made I was a little perturbed by your criticism of the language in my book, the misrepresentation of what I had written in the section of my book titled: Not Treating Hospital Staff Badly, and the incorrect recording of my current and former professional tiles. 

I would be just as ‘concerned’ as you are if any patient’s health suffered as a ‘consequence’ of merely treating their ‘health team poorly’. However, the behaviour I was referencing were things like patients threatening and racially vilifying staff, and sexually harassing and physically and sexually assaulting staff which goes far beyond treating a health team ‘poorly’. Clearly, patients with life threatening conditions would not be discharged, but some patients with less than life-threatening conditions are simply discharged or are arrested by police. Hospitals are unambiguous about how they will respond to such behaviour:

One of the key findings of my 1996 study: ‘The reasons why patients leave the emergency department without being seen by a doctor’ was because patients didn’t feel safe in the area in which they were asked to wait, in the old emergency department of St. Vincent’s Hospital. This was particularly true for female patients.      
I believe that writing a book such as this requires you to take into consideration everyone’s level of understanding, and while the language will be regarded as being a ‘little simplistic’ by some such as yourself, others will still encounter difficulties and these are the very people I hope to reach.

Almost 60 per cent of adult Australians have low individual health literacy’, in that they do not understand information about health care (‘Health Literacy: Taking action to improve safety and quality’ Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care 2014); thus we still have a long way to go, and is why I wrote the book in the way that I have with a plethora of checklists and illustrations

I still work as a registered nurse, while doing some voluntary work as a Patient Advocate and advocate for relatives in matters before the NSW Coroner’s Office. In addition, I worked as a Senior Investigation Officer and Patient Support Officer rather than as a ‘Complaints Officer’ in the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. These positions having very different functions.

I thank you for the opportunity to respond to your review.

Kate Ryder

Author of ‘An Insider’s Guide to Getting the Best out of the Health System’

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