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Sunday, January 29, 2012

We are doctors; but we are humans too.

A lot of times, I sit together with fellow doctors and we discuss the changing patterns in patients’ behavior. At times we feel good in finding that we deal with a whole new lot of educated people who know the importance of a medical checkup or a medical treatment; on the other hand we get flummoxed by a certain lot of patients that fail to take us in our professional spirit and keeps on failing us. Many a times, patients think that by paying up the consultation fee or treatment fee, they must be deemed healthy, come what may. We work hard as doctors but we can’t really achieve the unattainable results just because our patients press for them.

There are certain situations that make us, the doctors, feel bad. It always helps if a patient gets to know the limitations of a doctor also; we are also bound by certain rules, and the most rigid rules are those posed by the course of diseases. I am placing few stances when we, the doctors, feel belittle and disheartened.

Patient pays up for the consultation fee and hopes to get every seed of the miraculous recovery presented to him/her right there, on the spot. What we advice is on the merit of your health and indwelling disease process; you must show trust on our professional caliber. Its not that every disease can be treated on out-patient basis; for some ailments you would be required to get admitted and observed closely.

Patient asks for the rationale of the investigations carried out on an admitted patient, and he does that with a vengeance. It is sad that due to incomplete, and often faulty information, patient thinks that we are tending to investigate him more than what is required. For the patient it might be just be a prevailing bout of fever, but for us, the doctors, the rationale possibilities run much higher. We tell the patients that abdominal ultrasound is not only required when one is having abdominal pain; it can have other indications as well. Sometimes patients listen to it and better senses prevail in them; sometimes they outright label you as the money-seeking doctor. I am sure there are ample of instances happening daily in the professional lives of a lot of my colleagues.

Patient asks for a guarantee of the treatment process rendered. This is always dismaying, and often signals the shifting mind sets of a large population. We give the reference of medical literature; we take pain in providing detailed interpretation of the disease course and disease process. Sometimes it works and sometimes patient thinks that we, the doctors, have knowingly kept a gap in the treatment process so that we get to treat him again when he arrives with similar problem. For a doctor, it is a known fact that some ailments have high recurrence rate; for a patient everything must come with a guarantee. How can we, possibly, guarantee that typhoid won’t occur again? How can we guarantee that those esophageal varices won’t bleed again? How can we guarantee that the hernia won’t surface again?

Patient tries to be overfriendly with you and in the process starts exceeding the thin line in between patient-doctor relationship. Yes we don’t mind behaving like friends with some of the patients that have high faith in us; but that does not give you liberty to behave abruptly. Show a little respect to the doctors; it would only strengthen the bond that you share with your doctor.

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