When we talk about a doctor-patient consultation, we typically refer to the fact that when someone falls ill, they go to a doctor, who then tells them what to do. This is generally perceived as a one-way street and the doctor is in charge. He takes your medical history, will do an examination and then order tests. Once he has made a diagnosis, he will then provide the appropriate treatment.
However, in most cases there is one key component missing. Doctors need to consult with their patients as well. ! The medical field is advancing at a very rapid pace and current-day patients have a number of choices. It’s important to understand that each patient is different and there will be differences in their personality, world-view, religion and culture; the option they choose will be based on all these factors. This is especially important for conditions such as infertility, where the patient has many options, and the treatment is elective.
It also means that there is no single right answer; after all doctors aren’t mind readers either and they have to keep the patient’s personal preferences in view while consulting with them. They will be able to do this only by talking to the patient.
Giving the Patient a Choice
The simple fact is that doctors can’t afford to guess, and it’s important that they don’t impose their choices on their patients either. They must be non-directive as well as non-judgmental and give the patient the space and scope to make their own decision. It’s important that they ask the patient which treatment they would prefer instead of riding roughshod over them. This is not a sign of weakness on the part of the doctor – it’s actually a sign of strength!
The Incorrect Perception
There are also times when patients get confused when the doctors ask them for their opinion. At this point, their perception is that the doctor is confused and is unsure of what has to be done and that is why he’s asking for their advice. The truth is that a doctor who does this is a true professional who is being respectful. He knows that patients need to provide their inputs so that he can help them to make a decision that suits them best.
And so, when it comes to a doctor-patient relationship, it has to be a 2-way street and both have to be contributors; it’s the one way to ensure the patient gets the best care possible. Though this may seem to be a very obvious thing to do, it’s amazing how rarely doctors follow this practice in real life. The main problem is that most doctors have bloated egos; this is especially true of the renowned specialists in big towns.
A Narrow View
They are essentially know-it-alls and feel they have the all the answers and will dish out these to any patient who consults them, and this becomes the starting point of all the problems. In many ways specialists wear blinkers when they are dealing with medical issues; and so for a cardiologist, every chest pain originates in the heart, because he doesn’t understand anything about the stomach!
As long as everything is fine, patients have been conditioned to meekly agree with everything the doctor says. They are passively compliant, but when things go wrong (as they are bound to do in any complex biological system), they become angry and vengeful.
It’s important that medical decisions be made on a shared basis, and the doctor and patient should provide their inputs; and take responsibility for the outcomes. Sadly, most doctors continue to believe that shared decision making means- Here's my decision, let me share it with you! Its time doctors started respecting their patients and their choices!
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