I Am A Person With A Machine: Not a Machine With a Person
Each year more than 3,000 LVADs are implanted for patients with end stage heart failure. Due to the limited resources of donor organs many LVAD patients live with a device for years or indefinitely. While these devices provide lifesaving blood flow, they also can decrease quality of life, spontaneity, and limit patients from normal “human” activities. These devices can promote dehumanization as they have loud and unpredictable alarms, are dependent on power sources, are obvious and bulky, and require the patient to have a dependable caregiver. Many patients are further dehumanized as clinicians may focus more on the “machine” than the actual patient.
We propose providing a tool for clinicians to enhance the interventions of humanization for patients with LVAD. The tool will provide a model for the clinician to prioritize human interaction as he or she communicates with and care for patients with LVAD. This tool will contain methods encompassing; open communication, presence, listening, and individualizing care. Other aspects include practical applications to help patients regain some form of a normal life and quality of life, such as specialized vest or clothing options to help conceal the noticeable and cumbersome equipment. All these things allow the patient and clinician to focus on the human and form a caring, harmonious relationship thus together improving the quality of care.
Providing clinicians a with a tool and framework through which care of the LVAD patient is focused on human aspects will decrease dehumanization, however future research is need has to determine effectiveness.
- Karla Schroeder, DNP, MHA, ANP-BC
- Director of Palliative Medicine and Geriatrics
- Stanford Health Care
- 300 Pasteur Drive
- Stanford, CA 94305
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