September 2014

It Takes Courage to Speak the Truth

Lauren is the survivor of the 2009 Hepatitis C Outbreak in Colorado who chose to take a first step to passing legislation to make patients safer.
Lauren is the survivor of the 2009 Hepatitis C Outbreak in Colorado who chose to take a first step to passing legislation to make patients safer.

As a therapist, I often find myself congratulating clients for taking the first step as that is usually the most difficult. That first step might be making a phone call and asking about what resources are available for help or quite literally taking that first step into my office. So, too, do I congratulate the past contributors to our blog who have gone above and beyond to take that first step to share their stories. By speaking their truth, they have risked much, but were still undeterred.

You simply need to scroll back through the last few months and you will find many heroes who could no longer stay silent. Most recently, Anita Betrand shared her journey from addiction as a CRNA to that of an advocate speaking out so others can learn from her. Her struggle in and of itself was an arduous one, yet Anita chose to take that one next step to help educate so other healthcare workers finding themselves in a similar circumstance know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
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Sharing stories, transforming ourselves

Evelyn McKnight, president of HONOReform
Evelyn McKnight, president of HONOReform

In my work as a patient safety advocate, I have had the great good fortune of meeting many people who share with others their tragic story of how they were affected by unsafe healthcare. Like my family, their families were hit with a Mack truck on the road of life when they went to the doctor seeking better health, but came away with a worse medical condition because of unsafe healthcare. Telling the story may be gut-wrenching – it can be like living a nightmare all over. But through sharing their stories, these brave men and women are able to transform their experience into something useful, rather than simply a horrible personal trauma. Read more

Sharing stories, transforming healthcare

“If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”
– Mother Theresa

Evelyn McKnight, president of HONOReform
Evelyn McKnight, president of HONOReform

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of “Survivor’s Stories” blog. We thank you for your loyal readership, and we ask you to share with all your associates.

Today we want to thank the many people who have so graciously shared their personal stories with us. Thank you Barbara, Johnny, Mary, Amanda, Ron, Tom, Kim, Tom, Chuck, Melisa, Patty, Tam, Jan, Sharon, Joe, Karen, Rich and Anita for sharing your own story of how your life has been affected by unsafe injections. We know how difficult it can be to share such deeply personal stories with others, especially total strangers. We also know how vitally important it is.

The number of Americans that have been affected by unsafe injections in the past decade is staggering, reaching into the hundreds of thousands. Yet these numbers, although alarming, do not bring about change as readily as the story of the one. These numbers are dry statistics, “human beings with the tears dried off,” and fail to spark emotion or feeling and thus fail to motivate action. Social psychologists argue that this reflects the way our consciences and ethical systems are based on individual stories and are distinct from the parts of our brains concerned with logic and rationality. See “Psychic Numbing and Genocide” for more fascinating information on the numbing effect of impersonal data.

It is the personal stories that change hearts. And when hearts are changed, behaviors are changed. Healthcare becomes safer for all Americans.

I will never forget my first visit to Capitol Hill to visit my congressional delegation’s offices. Congressmen are busy people, and the staff that supports them is equally busy. When I first sat down with staffers, I could read distraction and disinterest in their faces. But as I told my story, they became transformed. They peered at me closely. They asked questions. They took notes. And by the end of the interview, they asked me what their boss could do to help and even made offers of what he would do that day.

Personal stories are powerful. When there is a face on an issue, it becomes real. It moves people to action.

I was very nervous the first time I told my story publicly, which was to a nursing class at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. After the class, the professor said to me, “Today you have spoken to a hundred new nurses. After hearing you speak, they will never compromise patient safety. Through your story, you have made healthcare safer for all the patients that they will serve, which will be thousands upon thousands over the course of their careers.” The butterflies in my stomach flew away immediately, and after looking at it in this way, I have never been reluctant to share my story ever since.

Do you have a story to tell?
How would hearing your story motivate providers, policymakers and manufacturers to commit to safe injections?

Again, we thank all the many people who have shared with others how their lives have been affected by unsafe injections. And we ask those of you who have a story, but have not shared it, to let us help you tell your story. Contact me anytime at evelyn@honoreform.org. Thank you.

Next week we will discuss how sharing stories help the people who have been affected by unsafe injections.

The Importance of “Safety by Engineering”

Evelyn McKnight, president of HONOReform
Evelyn McKnight, president of HONOReform

From the beginning, Safety by Engineering has been an important ongoing stance position of HONOReform. Recognizing the valuable work of industry, urging industry to go the extra mile to ensure patient safety, and working in tandem with industry, when our goals are shared ones—these are some of the many aspects of our work.

We are especially pleased with our current collaboration with BD (Becton, Dickinson and Co.). We admire their work and culture. Putting patient safety first—and having patient advocates beside them, as they do—is an ongoing aim of BD. Adopting more and better safety engineered devices, here in the United States and throughout the world, only makes good sense.

In this blog, below, titled “Collaborating for Patient Safety,” my story and the mission of HONOReform are described. It appeared on the BD Worldwide site on September 2, 2014.
In the near future, we will update you on our collaboration with BD. And we will continue to update you on the importance of “safety by engineering.”

http://www.bd.com/showcase/honoreform/index.aspx?WT.ac=honoreform

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