I go to see John* on the ward. He’s been admitted for pain management. He tells me that the plan is for some chemotherapy next week. Who was it who said that? I ask. He shook his head. “I dunno, there are so many…. I have no idea who most of them are. “
It can be so hard to work out who is who in the health care setting.
Dr Kate Grainger was a senior doctor in the NHS in the UK when she was diagnosed with cancer. She was shocked that people looking after her and even doing procedures on her did not introduce themselves. Before her death, she started a worldwide campaign called #hellomynameis. Its aim is to encourage healthcare staff to introduce themselves to patients. This improves patient satisfaction, participation in care, and also patient safety.
One thing that can help is to understand how the hierarchy works in the hospital setting. Yes, it’s a hierarchy! The consultant, or senior doctor, is the leader of the medical team. An inpatient in a hospital bed might see them every few days.
The doctors who come around each day to see all their patients are the registrar, the mid-level doctor who makes the day to day medical decisions. They are likely to be in a training program to become a specialist.
The most junior member of the medical team is a resident, who can also be called an intern or junior medical officer. They don’t make as many management decisions themselves, but carry out the requests of the registrar and consultant.
Alongside the many excellent bedside nurses caring for you, you may also be seen by allied health professionals. These could include a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, a social worker, a pharmacist, a spiritual care worker, and more.
Make sure you know who the team members are who are looking after you. I hope everyone greets you with a friendly, “Hello, my name is….”
Have you had an experience in the hospital setting where it was hard to work out who was who?