Friday, June 11, 2010


Are any two emotions more easily confused than hope and fear? How often do we say “I hope’ when our primary emotion is fear? “I hope it won’t rain,” we say. What we feel is: “I am afraid it will rain.” “I hope I don’t fail,” we say. What we feel is, “I am afraid of failure.”
Try as you might it would be difficult to find a place where this confusion reigns more vigorously than in the realm of health care. In health care, as in other things, we hope for prompt efficient service, calls returned, timely appointments. And yet there is nothing that scares us more completely than a lab worker who promises to send the result immediately to our doctor, or a doctor’s message saying, “I have your tests now. Please come in as soon as you can, preferably in the next day or so.”
And where does the fear come from? Could it be that, in the realm of health care, our hope is not the same as our expectation? Our expectation is to wait for service, to languish anonymously in stacks of charts, to be bumped when the budget is cut or a serious car accident brings in emergency cases. Our operating assumption is, "if it's good news, it can wait."

No comments: