I was called to the transfusion lab in the middle of night to look at a cross match before we could go ahead with a kidney transplant. As I left the lab, I noticed one of the techs was working. As it was then about 2:00 a.m., I decided that I'd talk to her later. The following morning I brought her into my office and asked, "What were you doing in the lab at two in the morning? You weren't working on the kidney. I know, because I was there." This young, blonde, blue-eyed, Minnesotan turned bright red, acutely embarrassed, and said to me, "Dr. Moore I was hoping you wouldn't see me." My heart sank when she said that. I thought, oh my God, what has she done? She continued, "I was doing the platelet antibody test during the day, and I accidentally used a solution of the wrong molarity and lost all the platelets. So by the end of the day when I read the tests on all the patients, it was a bust—and I knew it was a bust—I couldn't read it. So I was back doing the test again."
I replied, "That's really wonderful of you, but you probably could have done it today without having to come back last night in the middle of a January blizzard." She said, "Dr. Moore, I can't have the patients at Mayo Clinic waiting an extra day in the hospital because I fouled up a lab test." My jaw hit the floor at this point, so I said, "Well, that is very laudable. Make sure you put in for your overtime." She looked at me as if I had told her to rob the poor box in the church. She replied with a certain outrage, "Dr. Moore, I can't have Mayo paying me for my mistakes!"
I sat there thinking I don't believe I'm hearing this. This particular technologist was a hard-working young woman, a wonderful technologist, but in a way that was ordinary in our lab. Her attitude, her work ethic, her sense of ethics was such that this is just how she behaved. She was appalled that I would suggest that she be paid for her overtime at two in the morning. Employees like this are what make Mayo great.
As we have described throughout this book, Mayo Clinic's dedicated employees provide service quality that exceeds the ordinary again and again in the many service encounters patients and their families experience in an episode of complex medical care. This account of exemplary service told by Dr. Breanndan Moore, past chair of the division of transfusion medicine in Rochester, is particularly noteworthy because the service is so invisible. The employee wanted no one to know; she wanted no credit. Although this was in part because she had made an inadvertent error in a procedure, she labored every day invisible to the ...