Karen Fox created and manages the Adventures in Caring Foundation, which in 1991 was recognized by former President George H. W. Bush for outstanding community service.
"The economic benefits of compassion are startling. It's not just the patients and their families who suffer from a lack of compassion," Fox said in a statement. "It also harms staff retention and morale, and the culture and performance of a medical organization as a whole."
Tremendous time is wasted every day in high-tech healthcare units doing old-fashioned damage control for physicians and staff whose heartless communication has upset patients and families, Fox said.
Compassion can be taught, but not by lecture -- it just takes more than the traditional classroom setting -- it's more akin to coaching and apprenticeship, Fox said.
Fox said compassion involves:
-- Attention to the signs and clues to what is important to the patient.
-- Acknowledgment the patient is a unique individual.
-- Affection via the human touch of warmth, comfort, humor and kindness.
-- Embracing people just as they are, without judgment.