I’ve been having some Internet speed issues as of late, so I searched online and found a speed test. Turns out my download speed is a less than lightning fast at a mere 7.8Mbps – even though I pay for 24Mbps. I called up my Internet provider and had a conversation that went something like this:
Me: I am getting less than 8Mbps speed and I am paying for 24Mbps.
Customer “Service” Guy (CSG): What are you using the Internet for?
Me: Mostly email and online reading. No streaming videos or anything like that.
CSG: Sometimes the speed appears slower because of the websites you are on.
Me: OK…so how do I make it faster?
CSG: Would you like to upgrade your speed to 45Mbps?
Me: Only if I don’t have to pay more.
CSG: Actually it’s $X more a month.
Me: No, I don’t want to pay more. I just want to get the 24Mbps speed I am paying for.
CSG: That’s not something I can help you with.
I confess: I hung up on customer “service” guy. And then I began to ponder how it is that we’ve become a society that fails to take responsibility when problems arise. For every person that steps forward and says, “yep, there’s an issue, let’s figure it out,” another dozen are either ignoring the problem because “fixing” is not part of their jobs, or, quickly placing the blame on someone or something else.
Anyone who has worked in IT knows exactly what I mean. A customer’s system goes down and the software folks blame it on the hardware; the hardware guys blame the Internet provider; the Internet provider blames the customer…and so it goes. And no one is happy.
A more tragic example: Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient to die in the U.S., went to the ER with stomach pains, fever, and a headache. Despite telling staff he came from Liberia, the information was overlooked by the physician and Duncan was released. By the time he returned to the hospital a few days later, his condition was severe and he eventually died. Between the first and second hospital visits, Duncan could have infected dozens of people – though thankfully that doesn’t seem to have occurred.
When everyone began asking how the hospital could have missed the Ebola diagnosis with the first visit, hospital officials were quick to blame a glitch on the Epic EMR. However, the EMR was apparently just a convenient scapegoat.
After Epic raised a bit of a fuss, the hospital admitted the fault did not, in fact, lie with the EMR. Let’s face it: the hospital PR folks initially blamed the computer because they thought it sounded better than admitting the doctor made a mistake and didn’t fully read the patient record.
And what about the VA’s appointment scheduling scandal?
Several dozen VA facilities apparently kept “secret” waiting lists for veterans waiting to see a doctor while maintaining “official” waiting lists for reporting purposes. Employees were essentially ordered to cook the books to create the appearance that appointments were made within the VA’s 14-days-from-request goal. The secret list scheme continued until a retired VA doctor came forward as a whistleblower. By the time the truth was revealed, dozens of veterans had died before ever seeing a physician; more than 57,000 waited over 90 days to get an appointment.
How many people were aware these lists were being created and maintained? Hundreds? Thousands? Did they remain quiet because they feared losing their job? Didn’t want to get anyone else in trouble? Didn’t think it was their job to say anything?
Maybe the world needs some sort of 12-step recovery program that encourages people to readily admit when there’s a problem, and, encourages more personal responsibility. Seems like a better alternative than practicing avoidance and continuing to allow the buck to stop on someone else’s desk.
Michelle Ronan Noteboom
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