Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Doctors , patients and compartments

When patients fall ill , they often feel like they are entering a completely different world ! You are in pain and are worried about what the future holds . You're not sure what's going wrong and you're not sure to what extent you will get better. This is why you depend on your doctor to be able to help heal quickly .

Many of the problems between doctor and patient arise simply because patients and doctors live in completely different compartments – and the doctor’s viewpoint is very different from the patient's ! When a patient falls ill with a serious problem, he is forced to confront his own mortality, and this can be quite scary and humbling.  Patients expect their doctor to provide them with a helping hand and a lot of frustration arises when patients perceive that doctors are uncaring or are not bothered.

Now it's not that doctors are unempathetic or that they do not care  about you - it's just that their worldview is completely different from the patient's . Doctors see lots of patients daily with lots of different problems  Their focus is on making sure that the patient sitting in front of them does not have a serious problem which requires urgent care ; or some intervention to prevent it from getting worse . From years of experience , doctors know that lots of problems are self-limited and that many aches and pains will get better on their own . Often all doctors will do is prescribe masterly inactivity or “ tincture of time “ and because they understand the natural history of most diseases , they know that most patients will get better on their own, even if the doctor does not provide any specific treatment for them.

Unfortunately, this is not a perspective which a doctor can share with the patient on every visit, which is why doctors will often take shortcuts and write a prescription and tell the patient to follow up after 1 week, because they know pretty much that this patient has a self-limited problem which will get better on its own. Unfortunately from a patient's perspective, it may appear to him that the doctor is uncaring ! When you fall sick , your perspective changes and you feel the whole world should revolve around your aches and pains ! When the doctor seems to cavalierly dismiss all your complaints, you feel unloved and uncared for.

We need to understand that doctors and patients are all on the same side ; and just like doctors need to be more empathetic and understand that patients often just need a sympathetic shoulder to cry on, patients also need to understand that the doctors focus is on ruling out serious problems – not holding their hand ! If we learn to appreciate each other's point of view, it is  possible to bridge a lot of these misunderstandings , so that more doctors and patients are happier with each other.

1 comment:

  1. Hi dr.

    ,concerning the ectopic pregnancy, my wife has 8 so far, two of which were after ivf and she has another 2 apportions. Drs here in Saudi advise us to take out the you tubes to increase the success rate of the ivf hovered we are a bit hesitant to do so. I appreciate your advise dr on this.
    We had a baby girl thru ivf too five years ago the 1st ivf we did. My wife got pregnant couple times normally but all of them were normally but ended up in ectopic or apportion.

    I am really looking for help on this and I appreciate your guidance.

    Best regards



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