There are plenty of things that change amidst the transition from childhood to adulthood. You no longer cry when your scoop of ice cream tumbles to the concrete, for example. And, more than likely, you no longer need the security of a teddy bear nightlight to ward off bad dreams. However, just because you’re paying your own bills and willingly consuming spinach doesn’t mean you’re suddenly immune to the pain and anxiety of a visit to the doctor.
There’s a common misconception in the medical world that adults don’t need to be numbed before a vaccination, or talked through an IV start, because they’re mature and experienced enough to simply “deal with it.” However, though they may not feel it appropriate to voice their concerns, adults can benefit from comfort measures just as much as children.
Here are three reasons healthcare providers should consider increasing patient comfort measures for adults, too:
1. Needle Anxiety Does Not Have an Age Limit
Watching a phlebotomist fasten a tourniquet around your forearm and prepare to puncture your vein with a hypodermic needle makes almost everyone at least slightly uneasy. And, for some, it’s downright debilitating. Whether you’re six or 60, the idea of having blood work performed often promotes feelings of stress and discomfort. Patient anxiety, unfortunately, does not end with adolescence.
For healthcare professionals, IV starts, blood draws and vaccinations are routine procedures, but for the average patient it’s a once-a-year experience. In fact, your patient may be dreading the appointment for weeks or months. By implementing patient comfort methods for every patient, regardless of age, you can help ease this anxiety.
2. No One Wants to “Just Deal with It”
Imagine you’re approaching heavy traffic when you notice an entire, empty lane is barricaded. There is no construction, no hazard and no apparent reason for the lane to be closed. As the car behind you inches closer, a highway patrolman opens the barricade and lets the motorist through. Confused, you wave him over and ask if you, too, can be permitted into the lane. He shakes his head. “This lane is for new drivers only,” he explains. “You’ve been driving for years. A little traffic shouldn’t bother you!”
This scenario seems silly, but it’s exactly how patients feel when they know patient comfort solutions exist that can ease their pain, but the solutions are reserved only for children. In fact, they may even feel embarrassed asking for access to comfort measures they believe are designed for kids. Although an adult may have a higher tolerance for pain than a child, why suffer—in any capacity—when you don’t have to? Not to mention, normalizing patient comfort can help adults feel less awkward asking for additional measures to ensure a better experience.
3. Comfort Measures Improve Patient Satisfaction
There are plenty of ways healthcare providers benefit from improved patient satisfaction. For hospitals, an improved patient experience can lead to higher HCAHPS scores, and positively impact incentive payments for hospital reimbursement. For private practices and clinics, it can lead to more positive online reviews. And, for all healthcare institutions, improved patient satisfaction translates into a more positive reputation, greater revenue and a happier staff.
Offering patients an instant topical anesthetic before minor surgery or a vaccination, inquiring about anxiety level and calmly walking them through the steps of a procedure adds only minutes to care time, but can make a significant and lasting impact on the people you serve.
Interested in learning more about improving patient approval? Check out our latest eBook How Nurses Can Increase Patient Satisfaction through Person-Centered Care.