The Weekly Reflektion Week 01 / 2020

Happy New Year to all our readers. We hope that a quiet reflection over all you have done in 2019 will give an inspiration to how you can be better in 2020. We are sure that most of you have not experienced a Major Accident in 2019. We also hope that you will not assume that a Major Accident will not happen in 2020 just because it didn’t happen in 2019. Prevention of Major Accidents requires constant attention and you cannot rest on your laurels. Be mindful.

Are we open to criticism? Do we try to understand the reason for the criticism or are we too proud to admit our failures?

Florence Nightingale

My mother trained as a nurse at St Thomas’ Hospital in London and was proud of the badge that she earned. She often told me that no references were required for anyone that trained at St. Thomas’. The badge was reference enough. There has been a hospital at the present site since before 1215 however it was in 1215 that the hospital was given the name St. Thomas’ after Thomas Becket the Archbishop of Canterbury. Florence Nightingale established a nurse’s training school at St. Thomas’ in 1860. Florence Nightingale became famous for her efforts in caring for wounded soldiers during the Crimea War. She was immortalized as the ‘Lady with the Lamp’ as she walked through the wards of the military hospital at Scutari in Istanbul.

Florence Nightingale was born on 12 May 1820 into a wealthy, well-connected British family in Florence, Tuscany, Italy, and was named after the city of her birth. Her family moved back to England and Florence grew up as an independent spirit and an ambition to become a mathematician. She refused to conform to the norms of the day for how a young woman should behave and spend her time. She travelled and built up an extensive network of influential people and became an advisor to Sidney Herbert, the Secretary of War in the British government. When the Crimean War broke out, she was asked by Herbert to help with the running of the military hospital at Scutari. The hospital had a terrible reputation and a significantly higher death rate for the wounded soldiers than the other military hospitals. Florence and 38 other women travelled to Scutari to help out. None of the women had medical knowledge and experience. 

Florence and her ladies believed good nutrition and comfort was the most important factor for tending the wounded and their care was based on this mental model. Six months after Florence arrived at Scutari the hospital was visited by Dr. James Barry who was the Deputy Inspector-General of Hospitals and was based at Corfu. The military hospital at Corfu also treated wounded soldiers from the Crimea however the death rate here was only a tenth of the death rate at Scutari. Barry found Florence Nightingale in charge of the hospital and observed the poor hygiene and cleanliness and even an open sewer under the hospital. He gave Nightingale a lecture that she later described as the most indignant and embarrassing she had ever experienced. Though a harrowing experience, Florence Nightingale listened to what Barry had to say. She immediately set about cleaning the hospital and introduced strict hygiene standards. She had the sewer pumped out and re-routed. The recovery rate for the wounded soldiers immediately improved and this further enhanced the Florence Nightingale legend. The standards Florence Nightingale established at Scutari were later the basis for her nursing practices and the nursing school at St. Thomas’. Florence Nightingale had influence in England as she was idolized by the media and had a good network with the ruling class. She used this influence to improve hygiene standards in hospitals throughout Great Britain.

James Barry, who’s criticism changed Florence Nightingales mental model had a turbulent time in the army. Barry was outraged by unnecessary suffering and took a heavy-handed and sometimes tactless approach to demanding improvements for the poor and underprivileged which often incited anger from officials and military officers. When Barry died it was discovered that he was actually a woman who had hidden her gender in order to qualify as a medical doctor. Woman were not allowed to train and practice as doctors at this time.

It’s not easy to receive criticism, especially when the person giving the criticism is rude or arrogant. But if the hat fits then you just need to get over your hurt feelings. Florence Nightingale always regretted the soldiers that died unnecessarily in Scutari before she encountered Dr. James Barry and she never forgot the advice he, or she, gave her.

St. Thomas’ Hospital
Reflekt AS