Archive for August, 2008

Making assumptions

One thing I’ve learned in the last year as being a practitioner is to never make assumptions about anything.  This lesson was really reinforced today.

I had a patient who had amputations below both of his knees, as well as on one of his hands, leaving only one finger on one of his hands.  On top of this, he was blind.

Reading this information in the chart led me to automatically assume that this patient would be a cripple, dependent with all of his activities of daily living, unable to transfer, and unable to care for himself.

Was I ever wrong!

He lived in an assisted living facility, where he was extremely comfortable with his environment and he knew where everything was.  In the room at the hospital, we only had to give him verbal cues as to where certain items were.  Not only did he manage to don his prosthetic independently, he was also able to complete a wheelchair transfer completely by himself!

Once familiar with his surroundings, he was found to have no occupational therapy needs in the acute care setting.

In the past, I’ve made bad assumptions on lesser details. For example, if there is someone visiting in the room, I always ask, “how are you connected with the patient?” because I once made the mistake of assuming that a female friend of a female patient was a sibling instead ofa significant other.  I’ve also mistaken visitors to be grandparents when they were really siblings (making them look older).   But these are small assumptions that we make that don’t have an overall effect on patient care.

It is important to go into a patient’s room with an open mind and not assume that a patient performs at a low (or high) level just based on the chart review.  The book often does not match the cover.

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August 28, 2008 at 11:30 pm 6 comments


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