A Word of Thanks for Healthcare Professionals

As the new year begins I feel grateful to the many people who have influenced, shaped – and saved – our lives. Amid the chaos, I am compelled to stop and give our healthcare professionals a word of thanks.

It seems the patient safety movement has developed into a cottage industry of sorts where we expend a great deal of energy picking away the flaws in the system – kind of like those primates at the zoo that spend hours picking through their mates’ fur in search of fleas or whatever elusive critters they might find. Not that such scrutiny is not deserved. It is – and as imperfect beings, we are charged with maintaining constant vigilance in order to make healthcare safer.

Unfortunately, what can easily be lost and buried deep in the dialogue is what goes right. Healthcare professionals don’t just end up there because there was nothing else to do that day. They do what they do because they made a choice to literally devote their lives to a craft for which we – the patients – are the ultimate beneficiary. They have sacrificed their time and treasure so that we might heal and for that, we should be thankful.

New York resident Ed Gavagan was the victim of a gang initiation rite that was intended to end his life in the most gruesome and brutal manner. The thugs would have succeeded were it not for the amazing work of healthcare professionals at St Vincent’s Hospital. He tells his remarkable story of near death and deliverance in a TED talk: Mr. Gavagan gives a very moving account of a life changing experience and wraps the whole thing up with a short but moving tribute to his caretakers, crediting “…their training, their skill and a little bit of luck” with his survival. Have a look at this TED Talk (http://on.ted.com/Gavagan) and you will appreciate the amazing work that kept this man alive.

While we all seek to make the system better, let us not forget about the skill and dedication that these professionals bring to their craft. Happy New Year. Thank you!

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