Spend the afternoon in almost any hospital and you'll discover the challenges of providing - and receiving - medical care in this increasingly diverse era. You'll witness the valiant, yet often flawed attempts of nurses, orderlies and doctors to find a course of treatment for patients whose cultural beliefs toward medicine they do not understand. This lack of understanding not only hampers communication, it delays proper treatment.
Patient Diversity: Beyond the Vital Signs clearly illustrates the importance of learning about your patient population: their belief systems, folk medicine, lore, even those things that dictate how they respond to pain and medical care.
Take, for instance, Mr. Lopez, who is quite vocal about his post-surgical pain. Nurses pay less attention to his moans, believing that, as a Latino, he will naturally respond this way to discomfort. When a doctor does finally examine him, it is clear he is suffering from internal bleeding at the site of his incision.
Or consider Mrs. Humphreys, who refuses medical care because she believes God is punishing her and medical intervention is useless. Trying to convince her that the hospital's tests are her only alternative does no good. Approaching her with understanding, offering to phone her minister, and encouraging her to see that perhaps God wishes her to have the help of the hospital's resources is a more caring and effective approach.
These and other poignant scenes examine the challenges healthcare workers face every day and offer solutions and basic principles for administering care with understanding in our increasingly diverse communities.