Search our Site
Patient Safety Blog
Blog Home All Blogs
Search all posts for:   


View all (79) posts »

The Patient's Voice in Action

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 28, 2016

If you are involved in patient safety, you’ve probably heard your share of bad news.
This is a good news story.

by Patricia McTiernan, MS

Marian Hoy attended the 2016 NPSF
Congress on a patient scholarship and
"the lightbulbs just went off.”


In January of 2014, Marian Hoy, then 66 years old, became ill with what she thought might be the flu. “I felt bad for three days,” she recalls. “There were red flags that it wasn’t just the flu, but I didn’t recognize them.”

A former Dallas police officer and police trainer, Ms. Hoy lives in a small town outside of Austin, Texas. Her illness led her to become so disoriented that she called the town’s chief of police and asked him to bring her a soft drink. “I know the police chief,” she says, “but I never would have called him for that had I not been suffering confusion.”


When she realized the trouble she was in, she called the EMTs and was taken in the middle of the night to the hospital that she chose, Seton Southwest, part of Ascension Healthcare. Doctors there discovered that scar tissue from a long-ago surgery had surrounded Ms. Hoy’s small intestine and stopped her system. She underwent surgery to repair the problem, and in the days afterward she experienced complications that included sepsis and pneumonia.

“Everything was going south” for a time, she recalls now. “I would say to the doctor, ‘am I in danger?’ because I couldn’t say the words, ‘am I going to die?’ And he would say, ‘No, Ms. Hoy, you are not in danger.’


“In other words," she says, "he thoughtfully used my own words, so as not to frighten me.”


If you’ve read this far you are probably thinking, “Wasn’t this supposed to be a good news story?” Indeed, Marian Hoy spent three weeks in the hospital, and she recovered very well. But that’s not the only good news. When she tells her story, it’s all about her experience of care.

“They treated me like I was the only patient they had,” she says. “They gave me very individual care. When I called for a nurse, they were there in minutes. My doctors, surgeons, internseverybody knew my labs over the 24-hour period, but they came to my bedside to talk to me to see if I could put together a declarative sentence and understand their questions, something I was unable to do when I was admitted. And they spoke to me with language I could understand.”

Back to top

Patient Experience Matters

Patient experience of care has been defined as “the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.” A 2013 study found “patient experience is positively associated with clinical effectiveness and patient safety,” and supports the use of patient experience as a measure of quality.

Ms. Hoy’s experience puts a face to that research. Grateful for the care she had received, she wrote a letter of thanks. She was subsequently recruited to join Ascension’s system-wide Patient and Family Engagement Steering Committee. Through her work with Ascension, Ms. Hoy became aware of the NPSF Patient Safety Congress and was awarded a patient scholarship to attend the 2016 meeting.


“When I went to Arizona for the NPSF Congress, I had no idea what to expect,” she says now. “I was extremely naïve about safety in hospitals. I don’t know that a lot of patients understand the gravity of patient safety issues. The lightbulbs just went off.”

As a former law enforcement officer, Ms. Hoy was particularly interested in issues discussed during a breakout session on workplace violence in health care, which is on the rise. “Until we include an in-depth discussion of how today’s violence can and does impact the hospital setting, I don’t think we’ve completed the conversation on safety,” she says.

Today, Ms. Hoy serves on three patient advisory boards within the Ascension system. She is intent on sharing her experience because, “they saved my life, and there is no way one can repay that debt.”

She wants people to know about it. But she is also adamant about urging others to speak up and bring an advocate with them if they can when they visit the doctor or hospital.

“Participate in your own illness, ask questions,” she says. “If your doctor doesn’t want to answer questions, find another doctor. This a conversation about your health.”

Back to top

Do your health care practitioners make it easy for you to be engaged in your care? Comment on this post below. Note: to post a comment you must be logged in. Register or log in.

Patricia McTiernan, MS, is editor of the P.S. Blog. Contact her at

Back to top

Tags:  2016 NPSF Congress  patient advocate  Voice of the Patient 

Share |
Permalink | Comments (1)

Comments on this post...

Posted Friday, July 21, 2017
I wanted to speak up about my stay at UM hospital VS my stay at Westside Regional Medical Center. University of Miami hospital was miraculous and treated me very compassionately. The nurses were all so pleasant and you could tell they were really trying to help me. You can tell they also had a survey system in place. It was just a very nice environment. I had the opposite experience at Westside Regional Medical Center. Nobody seems to know what they are doing and no mangers or supervisors ever appear to be available. A nurse in the ICU at Westside was more interested in having non work related conversations then helping a patient who has been in ICU for a few nights. My experience was so bad that when I was release from Westside out of the ICU the next day I could hardly breathe on my own and probably shouldn’t have been released; but I had refused to go to the nearest hospital. Which is sad because I feared if I went to the nearest hospital (Westside Regional Medical Center) I might not ever make it home...... I do not feel safe at that hospital and fear for my life. So this is when I had my family member drive me to UM about an hr drive. I was so weak I had to stop breathing a couple times because I didn’t have the strength. I was readmitted and this is when I got the amazing experience of the wonderful staff at UM.

When I tried to reach someone at Westside Regional Medical Center about my experience they never returned my calls, letter or BBB complaint. I went to the hospital twice to ask to speak to someone and nobody was available so by the 2nd time I had refused to leave with out speaking to someone. I finally was able to speak to someone and then they admitted to receiving the letter that was hand written by a witness about how a nurse cursed at me and dropped hospital equipment on me and then walked out. Which caused me to go into a seizure that I chocked on my tongue and my jaw locked open. The only reason why my 5-year-old son still has a mother is because my own mother noticed I was chocking and put me on my side and reached in and took my tongue out. My jaw was locked open but good thing I didn’t bit my own mother’s hand because you should put your hand into a mouth of someone seizing. I then proceeded to ask them if you received the letter that we still have a copy of; why did nobody contact me? I think this is very serious what happened as it all could’ve been prevented with better care. They informed me at this time that they have closed their investigation on and nothing further will be done. Well I was really confused with this because how can you investigate something with out speaking to all parties involved? They didn’t contact me or any of the other witnesses that was in the room at the time. So how was it investigated? They could not answer this. This also refused to give me the nurses license number so I can report him. With all the surrounding facts and evidence the only conclusion I can come up with is this. During there so called investigation (true meaning of investigation is to carry out a systematic or formal inquiry to discover and examine the facts of [an incident, allegation, etc.]so as to establish the truth) they made a bias decision to only speak to there employee and not any of the 3 other witness in the room at the time that do not work for the hospital or myself who was the victim of horrible treatment that almost cost me my life.
Permalink to this Comment }

more Calendar

10/24/2019 » 10/30/2019
Patient Safety Executive Development Program

Copyright ©2019 Institute for Healthcare Improvement. All Rights Reserved.

Membership Software  ::  Legal