Don’t stick it to ‘em

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Clay Adams | April 25th, 2017

Now there aren’t many things in life that I don’t like.

But here’s a few of my un-favourite things

Peanut butter (how can you folks eat that?). Lacrosse (most ridiculous game ever…makes hurling look sophisticated). The Seattle Sounders (what Whitecaps fan doesn’t?). Oh, and the Portland Timbers I suppose (it’s a Caps thing).

And then there’s reality TV (so if it’s called “Survivor”, why are the losers alive?). And head-banging music, and drivers who ignore road rules (put the bloody phone down people!!), and pedestrians (no, I like pedestrians, just not the drivers who don’t).

Okay, so perhaps I’m a more miserable so-and-so than I thought (Editor – believe me, he is!), but if there is one thing related to work that I truly dislike it is – of all things – Post It notes.

Yep. You know them. The little removable, self-adhesive pieces of paper that people like to leave comments on and leave them pretty well where ever they want. There are legions of consultants and strategy planners around the globe whose lives depends on these ad-hoc snippets of paper. Many even go a step further, choosing to make you think that comments on the purple notes are somehow more meaningful than those on green. Then there are the blue ones, all of which obviously surpass whatever you jotted down on the plain, boring yellow ones (which are soooo yesterday).

Post-it notes have invaded meetings

I openly refer to them as the “yellow stickies from hell” and try to run the other way when I enter a room and see them laid out across the table. That they are usually accompanied by a collection of multicolored marker pens and large sticky note pieces of paper – yes, they even went and created honking big versions of the bloody things – plastered around the walls. Should you too enter a meeting room and witness such scenes, I encourage you to back away slowly and find something more meaningful to do. Like actually work.

It’s not that I have anything against strategy development or meetings that result in actual outcomes. It’s just that my experience with sticky note meetings is that most seem to generate situations where you produce lots of “comments” and “prioritize” them while the consultant or meeting organizer stands back and watches. While being paid a pot load of money to do so. Hmm, better add some consultants to my list.

The post-it note: poor place for patient info

In all seriousness, an issue with sticky notes is that too many people are starting to use them as formal documents. It is not unusual for health providers to make notes about patients on them, place them in the medical file and expect their comments to be added to the official clinical record. Seriously. This happens. Problem is, our medical transcriptionists only capture what is in the actual chart. No added bits of paper. No napkin notes. No heart rates, blood pressure readings and medication history on a yellow sticky. Do so, and you risk having important info omitted from the patient file. Now I’m not a doctor or nurse, but even I can figure out that is not a good thing.

There is no denying that Post It notes have become part of our culture. We now even have electronic versions of them so we can stick comments on our computers. But the paper ones are causing headaches for archivists struggling to fight the impact of adhesives on books and important documents.

They may certainly serve a purpose in making a note in a book or file, or even to remember to buy milk on the way home. But don’t get into the habit of using them for important (AKA patient) info. Not only will it not be entered into the record, but it might actually get lost along the way.

And losing a sticky note is one thing. Losing a patient is a whole different ball game.

 

About the Author

Clay Adams
email iconClay.Adams@vch.ca  

Clay Adams is vice president of Communications and Public Affairs and has extensive experience in strategic communications and planning, media relations, issues management and stakeholder communications in Australia and Canada. Clay writes on communication related topics with a wry humorous style and has an interest in discussion about how we want to be understood by others. View all the posts by Clay.

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2 comments on “Don’t stick it to ‘em

  • Jillian says:

    Stickies are handy but come with many issues in the health care sector. Many times at the fax machine I have come across them left on the counter after a document has been sent or found one that has drifted onto the floor after flying off a file whilst in transit from one department to another.
    Many a sticky with important info is left on the desk with directives but lacks key facts or even the name of the staff member that left it so we end up sent on a scavenger hunt to follow up. This is a major time waster and could delay a process that is time sensitive.

  • Erin says:

    AMEN! I have a hard enough time keeping track of the paper on my desk. Have told staff not to leave me information on a sticky note because I won’t see it for the forest of paper already there (not to mention my own excessively used stickies with notes to self floating over it). Note to self, clean desk (better put that one on a blue note). 🙂

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