Is Quality of Healthcare Just Luck?

Nov 10, 2010
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I recently had the opportunity to have lunch and good conversation with two individuals living with Fibromyalgia (among other conditions), but Fibro was their common thread.  What struck me though, was how different their experiences were not only with Fibro itself, but even more so, how different their experiences with healthcare, and specifically healthcare professionals, were.

The first person couldn’t say enough good things about her team of healthcare and rehabilitation specialists.  She seemed to have a team of physicians in a variety of health-related fields communicating with each other and working toward creating the most effective, well-rounded method of care and rehabilitation specifically for her.  She spoke positively of all of them (by first name), and credited them (as well as her husband) for not only saving her life but helping her push for and reach goals above and beyond those that many people initially set for her.

The other person seemed genuinely surprised by some of the stories the previous person had about the involvement of her healthcare team.  Her experiences did not seem to be ones where any professional was communicating with another, nor were any of them going above and beyond to get at the root of a problem or to seek out alternative methods for some sort of relief.  Even in regards to attitude, she had experienced situations where a certain (expected) level of sensitivity was completely absent.

Whether these differences in care stemmed from the patients/clients themselves in how much or little they spoke up or asked questions, or maybe their attitude or self-efficacy going into a situation, or maybe even insurance or other financial restrictions, I have no way of knowing.  But how do we make sure the latter example doesn’t happen to us?  Does it need to happen at the professional training level?  Or should it be in the education and empowerment of the consumer?  Whatever the situation, I left my lunch date feeling a little unsettled that maybe it’s just luck.  It would be a shame to base your quality of life on luck, wouldn’t it?

Author: Blythe