Patient Advocate Sherri Loeb on Navigating Healthcare

Please welcome our latest guest blogger, Sherri Loeb. Sherri is a nurse of 30 years and the wife of Jerod Loeb, Vice President for Healthcare Quality Evaluation at Joint Commission, who she, and the entire patient safety community, lost to prostate cancer last year (see Experiencing Both Sides of the Quality and Safety Chasm…) . Since losing Jerod, Sherri’s passion for patient centered care has only gathered more urgency, as she works to share their story and her nursing experience in a way that inspires change. She is also a member of the MedStar Health Patient and Family Advisory Council for Quality and Safety, as well as a member of the National Quality Forum steering committee for person- and family-centered care. Following is an excerpt from a recent blog post she wrote for HospitalImpact.org, What it takes to navigate healthcare: Engagement, compassion.

 

Patient engagement, patient-centered care, shared decision-making, patient experience and centers of excellence–all the latest buzzwords in healthcare. But do our industry leaders really understand what they mean or how to implement them, and how critical they are not only to the patient and family, but also to the ultimate goal of patient safety? From my recent experience I would say it’s rare.

I’m a nurse of 30-plus years who has worked in various healthcare settings. I have always been patient-centered and treated each patient as if they were family. Then, on Aug. 4, 2011, my life changed dramatically when Jerod, my husband of 25 years, as well as an internationally known patient safety and quality expert, was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic prostate cancer…

To read the rest of Sherri’s post, please click here.

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Experiencing Both Sides of the Quality and Safety Chasm

For more than 25 years I have had the pleasure of calling Jerod Loeb my friend. We lived down the block from one another as our families “grew up” together. Many who read this blog also know Jerod, or have worked with him at some point during his illustrious career. He has been a leading international expert in healthcare quality and safety for decades, and he has taught me much through his leadership. His wife Sherri is also a good friend of ours. She too has spent her entire professional career in healthcare as a registered nurse.  I wanted to share part of a recent article about the Loeb family’s personal journey through the healthcare system. Many of Jerod’s academic writings can be found in leading healthcare journals, however this piece, was published in their community newspaper.

Ironically, they will now tell you it wasn’t until Jerod was diagnosed with cancer that they both realized how much they did NOT know about healthcare. The Loeb’s personal experience has made them realize that drastic changes need to be made in healthcare administration. To that end, Jerod and Sherri are making it their personal challenge to educate others on how to best navigate the healthcare system as patients. Below Sherri describes some of her thoughts in relation to this dreadful disease:

“How do you ever start to explain the changes in your family’s life when someone is diagnosed with stage IV metastatic cancer? What was a perfectly normal life, changed on a single blood draw two years ago. From a PSA of 1.2 to 535 in one year. The prostate cancer had already spread out of the prostate and throughout the bones. It was too late for surgery. Two highly educated health care individuals were suddenly thrust into the sharp edge of the medical system. Through standard treatment, clinical trials, having to travel 1000 miles for care that looked beyond the “standard of care”, we have done it all. Throughout this journey we have learned many things:

1. Diseases don’t read textbooks – thus what may be appropriate care for some is not for others.

2. Although you may be extremely bright and knowledgeable once you enter the health care system as a patient you tend to become deaf, dumb and blind.

3. The need for patient advocacy and family engagement is crucial for the best care possible

4. Communication is vital. Without it everything else is lost.

5. Epidemiologists who decide that PSA screening is not important need to look at patients individually and not make a generalized statement.

6. Shared decision-making is the only way to appropriately approach care.

7. Stop treating patients like they are simply an icon on the computer and remember they are a person, with hopes, dreams and families.

8. Patient safety is not something to take haphazardly. Without it patients die or are harmed unnecessarily.

Many times, the most important educational messages we need to share in our teachings are not found in the traditional p-valued, statistically significant healthcare research articles we like to reference. The best learnings can be found in a neighborhood journal that incorporates the patient’s perspectives and needs into the educational moment.