Physicians Must Show More Compassion and Understanding

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Previously we discussed how physicians must show more respect, and now we’re going to focus on the humanity necessary for everyday patient-physician communications.  Haider Javed Warraich, M.D., wrote an inspiring article in the New York Times about doctors having compassion for the patient or family members who often have desolated and powerless hospital experience, filled with “jargon and ‘expert’ opinion”.

“Overwhelmed and confused, it makes sense they would defer the choice to someone who appears to know what they are doing.  And by invoking the physician’s parent, they hope to humanize the physician and have a conversation with real stakes.”

physiciansFeeling confused, patients and family members often try to involve the doctors on a personal level, asking questions like “What would you do if this were your mother?”. It may seem unfair for a professional to be put in this intimate situation, but the answer is a simple one, explains Mr. Warraich. Instead of explaining, the doctor should answer with “tell me more about your mother” or “tell me more about yourself”, which helps the patient and the family members revoke good memories and relive the good times they had, leaving them at ease and calm so they could make the right medical decisions.

“I was moved by this article. When I am discussing a patient’s shoulder or knee problem, I love to introduce one of my family members in the explanation, especially regarding surgery. We, physicians, must avoid letting the current changes in medicine turn us into uncaring technicians,” comments Armin M. Tehrany, M.D., F.A.A.O.S.