Packers - Seahawks Debacle: The Moral of the Story for Caregivers

You don’t have to be a Green Bay Packers fan – or even a football fan – to feel bad for the Packers after their loss to the Seattle Seahawks last night. After what some experts are agreeing was the worst call in NFL history, even a Bears fan like me feels a sense of injustice and exasperation.

In case you don’t follow football, the NFL has been without its regular officials this season due to a strike. By prolonging the strike and using inexperienced replacement referees, the NFL has made fans’ worst nightmare come true: Replacement refs have cost a team a game due to their own incredibly poor decisions.

Wait – isn’t this a caregiving blog? Yep, it sure is. And if you’re wondering what in the world this has to do with caregiving, please bear with me.

© State of Connecticut
© State of Connecticut

Our society, even with all of its brilliant minds, good people, and technological advances, is still fraught with incompetence. We’ve all seen it: incompetence at work, at the businesses we patronize, in the school system, in government, and oh yes, throughout our medical system.

Don’t get me wrong – there are still a lot of good eggs out there. But I’ll bet money that each of you reading this blog can recall a time when a supposed professional really screwed up your day, or maybe even your life, all because of his or her incompetence.

It’s not always the incompetent professionals’ fault.  Oftentimes, they’re doing the best they can. But they’ve been put in a situation outside of their area of expertise or beyond the level of complexity and pressure that they are equipped to handle. Kind of like these poor replacement officials who were thrust into refereeing NFL games well before they were ready.

I’ve seen this phenomenon all too often in healthcare. Doctors and others involved in the diagnosis and treatment of complicated medical problems are working outside the boundaries of their skill sets due to understaffing and incredible demand. They see patients like an assembly line worker and use cognitive shortcuts to make quick decisions about your loved one’s health and well-being. And sometimes, these decisions are wrong.

If you feel this has happened to you, here’s the good news: You can ask for a more thorough examination or, if needed, a second opinion altogether. This is your right as your loved one’s caregiver. Do not give in to incompetence if you feel in your gut that a terrible decision has been made or if you think a diagnosis has been missed. Ask questions. Advocate. And do not ever, ever feel guilty for being persistent.

Unfortunately, the Packers have to live with the poor decision making of the replacement officials and the loss that ensued. But the moral of the story for you is that you don’t have to live with bad decisions made by those treating your loved one. You don’t have to be a victim of incompetence. You can do something about it.

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