Head, Hearts and Hands: An open letter to Ms. Margaret Murphy
Dear Ms. Murphy
Two weeks ago, we had the honour of having you at Queen’s University as an International Visiting Scholar, funded in part by the Principal’s Development Fund, School of Nursing, Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, Faculty Development, A. William, Austin, and the Amos Friend Memorial Visiting Professorship. It was a huge privilege to host your visit in the School of Nursing. You shared your story about the circumstances of your son Kevin’s death due to healthcare error and thanks to years of advocacy on your part, Kevin’s story is now viewed as the consciousness of healthcare. You have left us to ponder how we can make a difference and accelerate the quality and safety mechanisms to ensure healthcare becomes much, much safer.
You gave us many messages during the week – reach out to patients, don’t call health care providers 'second victims' as though there are degrees of victims, ensure patients are involved in research projects from the start – not as an afterthought, and remember that we all need to use our head, heart, and hands.
Approximately 800 people heard you speak over four days including: nursing undergraduate and graduate students; patients and patient advisors; physicians and residents at Kingston Health Science Centre; healthcare quality students, graduates and researchers; and members of the Canadian Forces. We have all been affected by your message. What we are challenged with now is not to become complacent. You charged us with reaching out to families and patients and remembering that when a mother says something is not right – then we must listen as mother’s do know when something is not right.
We have been charged in the province of Ontario to pledge to change for improvement. Within the School of Nursing, we pledge to improve the way we recruit members of the public to our committees, how we ask patients and families to become part of developing our research projects, and making sure we teach learners to really listen – they need to Care to Learn so that they can Learn to Care.
The School of Nursing and the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at Queen's University