What Could We Have Done Better for Our Patients with Brain Injury?

Ron Broughton of Brookhaven Hospital reflects on a success story and one that still pulls at his heart. He talks about the importance of always looking at what his team could do better.

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One success story that is very close to my heart was a person I worked with one time who had significant self-injurious behavior, and to the extent that that behavior would jeopardize their life. And they came to us and had significant neurobehavioral issues-- aggression, self-injurious behavior-- and after roughly a year and a half this person was able to move forward, get a GED, go to a lower level of care, and resume pretty much a "normal" life, so that's a very successful event. The flip side of that is sometimes we don't always have the victories, sometimes we have the losses, and another patient that came to us one time-- the same kind of neurobehavioral issues, self-injurious behavior-- and unfortunately they'd been through a lot of different treatment at a lot of different places and they were harboring that ugly word called "institutionalization" within them. And when it came time to move to a lower level of care, they chose to actually act out and re-create the negative behaviors that would prevent them from moving to the lower level of care, and ultimately chose to go back to prison on a previous charge instead of staying in treatment. And so those are the ones that kind of tug at your heart the other way, that you go back and you question yourself and you wonder, What could I have done better, what didn't I do, what should I have done-- that's my goal for all of our therapists and all of our nurses and doctors and all of our team, is rather than fall into a scenario where we blame the patient, let's take a look at what we did ourselves and what we could have done better. Not to the extent that it hurts us internally, but it doesn't ever hurt to go back and just kind of re-evaluate what happened and what you can do better and move forward from that. My advice to families would probably be search out a place that is open and honest with you and that doesn't sit back and pull punches and try to gloss over the issues. at the same time being gentle and kind to what you're going through, but as I said earlier, not glossing over everything and telling you how wonderful everything's going to be, just come to our program. Watch out for the hard sell as opposed to the dedicated facility or individual.
Posted on BrainLine November 7, 2012. Reviewed December 25, 2017.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Erica Queen, BrainLine, and Dan Edblom.