Disconnected US health care–Part 2

The Dressing Change – Part 2

–Tara Frerks

As I worked, I listened as Mr. Friedrikson repeated some of the particulars of their story. It was clear that he was angrier than his wife, maybe feeling some guilt. He clearly had taken the lead in trying to secure help.

I washed off the remaining betadine and dried blood, then patted the patient’s hand dry, careful not to hurt her. “Want to take a look before I wrap your hand?” I asked.

Mrs. Friedrikson emphatically shook her head.

Using supplies from their bag, I carefully placed Telfa (no-stick gauze) over the healing lacerations, then wound gauze around the fingers and thumb, wrapping the thumb separately and keeping the fingers visible to just below the nails. I’d watched many dressing changes, but this was the first I’d done on my own. I gained confidence as I worked.

Two hours after entering the clinic, I sent the couple on their way. They left with a neatly applied dressing and two hours of telling their story. Now more confident in my wound care, I realized that today I’d made a valuable contribution to Dr. Brown and the clinic team. As a medical student I had the luxury of spending time with patients, listening and talking and hearing every detail of their nightmare in a way that Dr. Brown could not. Now, my challenge over the next years of training is to learn how to demonstrate the same humanistic care in a more compact interval. And maybe with advocacy on my part, I might see a saner health care insurance system during my career.

(Excerpted and used with the permission of the author, published in The Country Doctor Revisited, KSU, 2010)

We’ve talked before on these pages about the student’s luxury of time, what a gift that is for the patient and the clinic. Pay attention to what you can learn because of the time you have to spend with patients. You’ll gain not only techniques and skills, but a wealth of information about health and healing and  the resiliency of the human body and spirit.



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