Susan E. Mazer, Ph.D. Blog

Thoughts and ideas on healthcare

Hi, and welcome to my blog! I'm Susan E. Mazer -- a knowledge expert and thought leader on how the environment of care impacts the patient experience. Topics I write about include safety, satisfaction, hospital noise, nursing, care at the bedside, and much more. Subscribe below to get email notices so you won't miss any great content.

Prime Time TV Programming for a Hospital Waiting Room?

August 28, 2015

dreamstime_m_20772406I am not sure how long it has been since we’ve had a week without a shooting in the headlines. Regardless of the perpertrator or circumstances, murder is our new prime time obsession because it is happening and we want to know.

Does CNN or FOX News on the television in your hospital waiting room make patients and families feel more secure in your midst? Do these ongoing, repetitive, violent videos and news reports reduce anyone’s blood pressure or relieve their fears as they wait for results of a test or the end of a surgery?

Since we began producing The C.A.R.E. Channel, we’ve recommended that C.A.R.E. programming replace the daily news of murders, accidents, immigration reform, or stock market crashes. But staff members often tell us when they turn on the television in the hospital waiting room, this news is what patients want to watch. Is “what they want” the appropriate basis for making any decision regarding patient care, the patient experience, or patient safety?

In a study I did as part of my doctoral work, I looked at how patients/families/visitors make use of media (television, radio, printed materials, etc.) in hospital and clinic waiting areas. I did an observational study where I just sat in a waiting area and watched, being invisible to those who were there. I was just another person waiting.

What I found was that the television is a one-size-fits-all invader. It broadcasts without regard or consideration for who is sitting watching it, whether intentional or incidental. Most people ignore all printed materials, often ignore the television, but because the television is the dominant voice in the waiting room, it does intrude upon everyone within ear shot or line of site. A non-profit psychiatric clinic I observed was showing a film about satanic characters committing murder. Not exactly the best thing to prepare patients for therapy sessions. The deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan freely broadcast in VA waiting rooms. A great way to treat PTSD?

I encourage you to look at the television in your hospital or clinic waiting rooms as representing your organizational intention in providing care to everyone within your doors. Make sure that if you have CNN or FOX News broadcasting, you mean it.

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