Collateral Damage: A Patient, a New Procedure and the Learning Curve
Reviewed By Oluwakemi Eniola Tomobi, Editor-In-Chief, Journal of the Student National Medical Association
Health care reform calls for more coordinated care among the different health professions, including medicine, pharmacy, nursing, nutrition, physical therapy, and others. Each of the above categories of providers is trained in different professional schools and thus contributes unique perspectives to team-based or multidisciplinary healthcare. Collateral Damage reveals that to truly achieve patient-centered healthcare, we need the input from all professional members of the healthcare team.
One perspective that is often missing is that of the patient. Patients have to navigate a complex healthcare system. Providers may struggle to understand things from the patient perspective. Therefore, patients and their advocates deserve a place on the inter-professional team, just as students have a place in the parent-teacher-student association. In Collateral Damage, author Dan Walter offers a unique education from the patient family perspective. His wife undergoes a cardiac ablation procedure for atrial fibrillation.
Walter provides the details surrounding the entire process, from the confusing informed consent and signature process,
to the focus on the corporate side of medicine, and the “learning curve.” Walter illustrates that patient safety becomes compromised, and that the culture of safety would allow for physicians to more openly admit their errors and learn to prevent further collateral damage – not just the physical damage from a cardiac procedure gone awry, but also the resultant damage that miscommunication and corporate greed does for healthcare in general, and the doctor-patient relationship in particular.
Walter fills in the care gaps and provides a picture of continuum of care that is often missing when the patient perspective is not considered. Trainees and providers alike have much to gain from Collateral Damage to become leaders in promoting patient-centered care. Patients and other nonproviders in the community also have much to gain from Walter’s quest to educate all about navigating the healthcare system on behalf of his wife.