PLEASE WATCH THE CLIP I HAVE EDITED AND POSTED TO YOUTUBE BEFORE READING!
Ideally, I would have liked to upload this video I made directly to WordPress but apparently I am given a limited amount of space for a free account so I uploaded to the next best thing, YouTube.
I first saw this film last year shortly after it came out. As an independent film, it was only screened in select theaters. It really is a shame that it wasnt selected for wide-release because it carries such a strong message. This movie is a real-life story of two lawyers that take on a case regarding needlesticks and safety needles. For those that are not familiar with needlesticks, the CDC estimates around 385,000 sharps-related injuries happen every year (Cunningham & Burnett, 2011). That is a frightening statistic considering the implications that can come from a needlestick (HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C). During the time that this film was set, needlesticks accounted for over 800,000 sharps-related injuries a year. New laws have been put in place to ensure safety when dealing with needles and many healthcare facilities have started to purchase safety needles, like the ones described in this clip. All of these advances have helped lower the number of needlesticks but more must be done in order to eradicate them completely.
This clip does a great job at illustrating the animosity that some nurses and medical professionals feel when it comes to these statistics. Speaking from experience, there are often situations that occur within a hospital environment that for some reason or another, tend to get overlooked. Either it is cheaper for the purchasing companies to go with one product over another, as was the case with this film, or not enough attention is given to the complaints of the people who are most familiar with the processes that could use improvement. Most decisions are made by medical boards that have little to know idea how things really are on the frontlines of healthcare. Medical staff are aware of the issues and in an effort to cope with their mismanagement, some people take on a humorous or sarcastic approach when it comes to talking about them. The nurse in this clip for example, uses sarcasm to deflect the questioning coming from the lawyer. It alludes to the sense that this nurse is very familiar with needlestick data and is also aware that not much was being done to prevent them.
Medical mistakes happen and when they do they often bring a lot of cost to the medical facility and the physicians responsible. My question is this, who should be held responsible in the event of a ‘medical mistake’ where the victim is an employee? Shouldn’t it be considered a medical mistake for a hospital purchasing department to knowingly refuse to purchase and provide materials that ensure employee safety? If the same regard were not given to patients it would qualify as a case for malpractice. ‘First, do no harm’ is often one of the first oath’s a physician takes, why then would we subject people to something potentially harmful in lieu of something that can save lives and prevent illness? Essentially, it is a lack of communication between the powers that be and employee’s lower on the proverbial totem pole that are responsible.
As Athena du Pre (2010) suggests in her textbook, communication is interdependent. We communicate with others in order to come to a common understanding; working together is the way we accomplish our goals. I bring this up because it plays a direct role throughout this film. The lawyers have to work with medical professionals to ascertain accurate data to support their case (as can be seen when he approaches the nurse for information on needlesticks) while also working with healthcare administration to incorporate the purchase of safety needles (which can be seen when he is directed to speak with purchasing). In this particular clip, the nursing staff is working directly with the lawyer to reach an ultimate common goal of decreasing the occurrence of needlesticks. Once it is communicated by the lawyer that he desires the same outcome as the nurse (the implementation of safety needles) the nurse is more forthcoming with information to help the lawyer build his case.
By continuing to work together, we can continue to push for more safety laws and procedures in an effort to make medicine a safe place for both patients and their caregivers.
Until next time…
Athena du Pre. (2010). Communicating about health. New York: Oxford University Press.
T. Cunningham, G. Burnett. (2011, November 15). Puncture: Exposure for bloodborne pathogen exposure. [web log comment]. Retrieved from