This isn’t the first time Alicia Cole, patient safety advocate from Los Angeles, has gone to Wyoming. Last time, she was there working with a quality improvement organization and Family Practice Residents Program. This year, she delivered the keynote speech at the annual Wyoming Hospital Association (WHA) Conference, attended by more than 260 people! Her speech was highlighted in a WHA news brief this month:

Cole said she went into the hospital for a relatively routine surgery, a procedure that should have had her in and out of the hospital in a couple of days.

Instead, after the bacteria first appeared on her abdomen and went untreated for a period of time, she spent several weeks in the hospital, undergoing excruciating treatments.

At one point, doctors thought she might lose a leg as a result of the bacteria. At another, her doctors thought she would die.

Throughout her discussion, Cole drew attention to practices, which, if handled differently, could have prevented the spread of the bacteria. Nurses who did not properly dress her surgical wound. Physicians who were difficult to reach and did not thoroughly examine her symptoms.

Cole emphasized the well-known series of simple practices that can dramatically reduce infections in hospitals. And she stressed the importance of the patient’s role in their own healthcare. Of all the voices that contribute to patient care, it is the patient’s that is most often ignored, she said.

The following day she facilitated a workshop on Engaging Patients in Your ‘Patient-Centered Care’.  Alicia’s story should inspire any health care provider to do all they can to stop infecting patients. She’s informed many people about how terrifying hospital infections can be and the need for providers to listen to patients and their loved ones.  Always on the go, I’m glad Alicia got some free time in Wyoming to take this lovely pose!