“We’ve gotta keep Mama happy”
I hear this from time to time from pediatricians. The idea is that if we don’t give a mother what she’s looking for, she’ll walk.
As a resident I had a preceptor who loved to pull me aside to teach me the ‘inside baseball’ of pediatrics. One day after prescribing antibiotics to a child with a runny nose, he remarked with a wink and a wry smile, “If I don’t give this mom her antibiotics she’ll go somewhere else. If mama’s not happy, I’m out of business.”
Fortunately, the irresponsible use of antibiotics in the interest of ‘good business’ is becoming a thing of the past. Public education around antibiotic stewardship has done a better job of training the masses that antibiotics don’t treat colds.
Keep mama happy for the patient satisfaction survey
A new argument is that if a mother doesn’t get what she believes she needs, the delivery system or pediatrician will be punished when Press Ganey comes home to roost.
What these concerns really say is ‘we have to put operational interests in front of whatever might be the right thing.’ It’s really about business more than babies.
Truth be told, those of us in maternal child health serve two masters. There’s the child and his mother (90% of health care decisions are made by mom). And there are times when we have to address the needs of the maternal side of the dyad.
Negotiation and management of expectations to keep mama happy
But every doctor-patient interaction involves negotiation. And the failure to manage the expectations of mother or any patient is too often a failure to take the time to connect and educate. I’ve rarely been in the situation where I’m unable to negotiate a shared decision plan that works for everyone. It’s not always easy.
Keeping mama happy is good business. But compromised care that gives the customer what she wants can be short-sighted. And beyond the short-term concerns of a patient survey, keeping good care of babies is always better business.
If you liked this post you might like the patient experience archives. A collection of everything written there that touches on the experience of delivering a solid experience. You’ll also see tags below every post that will guide you to related material. Click through and poke around.
Modified image of an advertisement for Trilles Quinquina of Perpignan via the National Library of Medicine.