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Scared to speak up: model to help healthcare consumers raise concerns

'You’re worried? We’re listening.'

This is the key message South Australian researchers hope a patient’s loved ones take away from a new model aimed at ensuring they know when and how to raise concerns about a patient’s deterioration.

Flinders University’s Dr Lindy King and her team have developed a consumer reporting of patient deterioration model for use in the state's public hospitals and other health services.

King, a senior lecturer in nursing, said people may feel scared to speak out about their concerns surrounding a patient to health professionals. Australian researchers recently described the phenomenon as 'hostage bargainining syndrome', saying patients or family members who feel unable to assert themselves in the presence of clinicians mirror the behaviour of adult kidnapped hostages.

“They might be too scared to speak out with medical professionals who are very busy and make their work burden greater,” King said. “They also want a sense of assurance that their concerns will be listened to and acted upon.”

Nursing Review spoke with King to find out how the team went about helping consumers approach health professionals with their concerns and what difference more consumer reporting could make to the patient experience.

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