First of all, unlike product manufacturing, a hospital or the healthcare industry should be categorized into the service sector because of the product intangibility in the exchange process. Given that there is great complexity in the service delivering process involving numbers of steps to complete, the nature of healthcare service should be facility based with high level of service provider-receiver interaction (Greasley, 2013). Therefore, instead of a precise production design, a flexible yet effective service design is required. It needs to be acknowledged by healthcare practitioners that serving a customer in this business is not only to treat a patient, but also to care about their psychological conditions and to ensure a certain level of customer satisfaction. In this case, the medical attendants in Hope Memorial Hospital have clearly failed.
In the case of repeated errors in medication use, although individuals are to blame for lacking communication about the patient condition, it is still the incomplete service delivering process that mainly contributes to the dispute. This faulted process includes an unclear duty allocation, insufficient internal interaction and lack of communication with customers. Firstly, when the client realized the medication list missing, he thought about various errors that might occur but could not figure out how exactly the list was left. This reflects a vague responsibility division in the hospital since there should have been a person taking the patient’s past medication record or a particular group in the Emergency Room responsible for taking over from the ambulance crew. Secondly, the nurse promised to pass the information of the correct list to the next shift. Yet the next morning the patient was still injected wrong medicine that was from a list two years ago. This clearly reflects faulted communication and work handover process. Clear and strict regulations are required that an information update about one patient should be made known to all medical attendants involved in the treatment process. A clearly defined standard of work handover between different shifts should also be available. Regarding lack of customer communication, the problem mainly lies in the hospital’s complaint system, of which the problem will be discussed in the next part. Apart from the process, facility layout and product design should also be improved, so that problems such as difficulty in uploading information would not occur anymore (Chase, et, al, 2004). Overall, although individual workers responsibility shirking is exacerbating the problem, the flawed service delivery is mostly facilitated by the incomplete service process. To resolve this problem, a clear process flowchart or service blueprint is needed to clarify responsibility of medication service frontline and back office providing physical and institutional support (Russell & Tylor, 2014; Greasley, 2013).
According to the response from Melanie Torrent, the hospital quality assurance manager, it is highly possible that similar problems would happen again. The indifference to the patient’s well-being and potential danger can be a hidden contributor to severe medical negligence. The repeated confirmation about the patient’s safety currently would not rationalize the malpractice that could have put the patient in danger. This illustrates an incomplete service package where a proper service attitude is in lack (Greasley, 2013). A question of where further complaint should be filed is also important for dealing with hospital malpractice, since the client in this case was clearly not receiving reasonable arrangement from the quality assurance manager. Therefore, a complaint system involving different institutional levels is needed so that mutual control is available to ensure different parties are taking their respective responsibility. In summary, in this case, a more active customer interaction process is needed in order to provide practical resolutions rather than meaningless concerns, otherwise similar problems are likely to happen again.
In conclusion, in the healthcare industry where the volume (ie, number of patients) and level of standardization (ie, regulated operation process) are both high, it is plausible that continuous production is required, meaning the medical practitioners should keep an attitude of caring and responsible and perform in a professional way continuously (Russell & Tylor, 2014). Apart from the proactive role that should be played by the healthcare provider, to fully eliminate similar problems, combined efforts from regulatory entities and business association are also important.
Chase, R.B. Jacobs, F.R. and Aquilano, N. J. (2004) Operation Management for Competitive Advantage. 10th Edition. New York: McGraw Hill.
Greasley, A. (2013). Operations Management, New York: Wiley
Russel, R. S. and Tylor III, B, W (2014) Operations and Supply Chain Management. 8th Edtion. New York: John Wiley & Sons.