Harming those who heal makes for a sick system

In the DHLG post Heal the Healer in healthcare I highlighted much harm the broken healthcare system is doing to our patients …

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… hospital errors occurring in one-third of all hospital admissions; medical mistakes contributing to up to 187,135 deaths and 6.1 million injuries; an estimated annual cost of measurable preventable medical errors of $17.1 billion.

I also highlighted the harm this broken system is doing to doctors …

… physicians have a significantly elevated suicide rate in comparison to other professionals. In her article “What I’ve learned from saving physicians from suicide,” Pamela Wible, M.D., highlights that not only are doctors overworked, exhausted and depressed, [and worse] but few are seeking help.

And in the DHLG post Preventing harm and healing the healer I also spotlight the harm the broken healthcare system is doing to nurses and other front-line healthcare staff and share examples of things we can do today to make a difference as well as a commitment …

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Dear Doctor, Nurse, Front-line staff … we need you. We need your heart and mind. We need your passion. We need you whole. And we need you healthy. We care about you and we will no longer simply mouth the words but rather we will do something about it. We Will Fix the System.

And in the post As we too heal … a story of a patient family advisor I highlight the harm this system does to families …

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Alejandro’s son was admitted to the intensive care unit of a local hospital. For bureaucratic (aka bizarre) reasons Alejandro was not allowed to be with his son in the hospital. He did not know if his son would live or die. He was not allowed to hold his son. Touch his son. Talk to his son. His son was alone. And so was Alejandro.

So …

As I call attention via P.E.T.S. to the important role of animals in health and healthcare, their positive impact on the human healing and dying journey, their role in relationship centered and compassionate care, and connect those doing this amazing work …

… unfortunately I am not surprised to read in the Atlantic piece (2012) The Fight for Service Dogs for Veterans With PTSD that the system which has harmed so many patients and families, doctors and nurses and staff (and that must be fixed now) is also harming the very service animals who when trained, loved and cared for can do so very much good for so many.


From the Atlantic piece by Rebecca Ruiz:

… the agency confirmed that it had suspended the study at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, FL, for the second time this year after alleging that a vendor violated its contract and endangered the health of its dogs.

And the vendor has done so (and also placed patients in harms way) because of a lack of integrity and perverse financial incentives … (sound familiar?)

Again, from Ruiz …

… a problematic conflict of interest [exists] wherein the service dog provider may perceive a financial incentive to pair dogs regardless of whether or not they have received necessary training or would perform well.

This must change and it must change now.

From the post Empower healthcare leaders who are in it for the patients–not financial gain


There are a great many people of value, of integrity and of honor within the healthcare system who strive each and every day to do what is right for patients, families and communities as well as for doctors, nurses and staff throughout the system.

These are the people we must engage.

These are the people we must ensure are at the proverbial table, be it the health system board, the leadership teams of the hospitals and medical groups, the local health and/or healthcare non-profits, [animal service providers] and so many more.

These are the people who, when the funding model changes, their values do not.

Harming anyone or any thing to heal another makes for a sick system.  We can and we must do better.

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When one of us is harmed … we are all harmed … literally … for only when our doctors and nurses and front-line staff … for only when our service animals … for only when we are all whole and healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually will we all be best positioned to care for one another and truly help each of us achieve our optimal health and well-being.

 ~ TD




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