If you have ever experienced being hungry or thirsty, you know it can have a negative impact on your well-being. Now imagine you are also in an Emergency Department (ED) waiting for medical care. As an emergency physician at St. Paul’s and Mount St. Joseph Hospitals, Dr David Agulnik has witnessed the impact of these circumstances – sometimes seeing a patient’s mood escalate to more aggressive behaviour - increasing tension for everyone in the ED. It’s the ‘domino principle’ played out in real life.
It is from this observation that Dr Agulnik arrived at a simple strategy – offer food and water to those waiting in the ED for care. Having recently completed the Physician Led Quality Improvement Program (PLQI), which is a partnership between Vancouver Coastal Health, Providence Health and the Specialist Services Committee (a partnership of the BC government and Doctors of BC), this became Dr Agulnik’s quality improvement project. Dr Agulnik observes, “the whole process was a great experience – it was interesting to see how applying the Plan Do Study Act (PDSA) cycle even to small projects helped to refine and improve the outcome.”
The food and drink are simply – a sandwich and water – but they help sustain a patient while waiting for care. Although the PLQI project is relatively new and it will take time to fully assess the benefits, a preliminary survey of a dozen nurses and registration clerks state they believe the project could lead to improved patient behaviour, more compassionate care and fewer interruptions from their work because basic needs have been looked after. Dr Agulnik continues to appreciate and apply the learnings he’s acquired through the PLQI. In addition, to his role in the Physician Lead Quality Improvement Program, Dr Agulnik’s overall focus to improve health care delivery through innovation and collaboration has resulted in being the recipient of this year’s BC Health Care Hero Award.