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Posts Tagged ‘doctor patient relationship’

This write up was triggered after encountering a patient who instructed his cardiologist to remove an incidentaly found block in Right coronary artery. 

Oftentimes, It is a funny & futile world out there in modern medicine. Revealing the complete truths or accepting ignorance in critical decisions to their patients, make the Doctors feel that, their academic modesty and reputation are at stake. 

Still, many patients expect (and think) the doctors to be 100 % transparent and want to understand the nuances of disease better than the doctors themselves. The current fad of online & offline health education for patients is not an accident of technology. Though some benefits exist, I feel, It is an intentionally promoted, maliciously motivated patient empowering movement, trying to disarm the true professionals.

Dear colleagues, always realize, never allow the default ignorance to become patients’ knowledge and ask them to take decisions on behalf of you. (I know, this is diagonally opposite to current principles of the practice of medicine) Fortunately, this issue doesn’t arise in most public hospitals in our country.

This paper was written 30 years ago with great foresight.

 

So, act with tact. You can’t hide behind the patient’s preferences in deciding the treatment choice. It can be “as unethical as” any activity that goes against the interest of the patients under which we are taking our oath. I don’t, recall anywhere in the Hippocratic oath, that we pledge to listen to the patient’s choice of treatment. (Rather, we assure to work in their interest always)

Final message 

Let us sharpen our own skills first. We shall think about how to distill and consume the muddy knowledge emanating from the current mess of premature research spilling all over academia. Don’t try to educate too much to your patients. There is nothing called academic empathy because leaving it to our patients will ultimately end up equivalent to medical negligence.

Forget about the patient-guided treatment menu card. Think about this, if ordering a trendy new medical investigation purely on a patient’s demand is declared as medical negligence, How many doctors on this planet will be left non-negligent.(Stop. then what is a master health check-up? Who is the master ?) 

(Hope this write-up is taken from a proper perspective. No intent to create a chasm between patients and doctors relationship )

Reference 

Drane JF, Coulehan JL. The concept of futility. Patients do not have a right to demand medically useless treatment. Counterpoint. Health Prog. 1993 Dec;74(10):28-32.

Postamble & Counterpoint

It all sounds good on paper. The consequence of not listening to our patients, especially if they land up with complications, will look awkward, is it not?  So, I always go by patients’ desires.

Patients tend to believe in fancy investigations and machines and not me, what to do?

No, it is wrong. You can’t justify it. Regarding your concern and impact on our reputation, nothing can be done. The medical judiciary desperately needs some reforms, understand the reality to protect us  I always tell my patients they have to accept me as a whole. (Do you enter the Aeroplane’s cabin and check the pilot’s mental and physical acumen every time you board a flight. It is trust,.. complete trust, that drives our life right !)

It is true, that medical professionals must be always under a continuous quality* control regimen.  The consequences of consulting less shrewd medical personnel, their errors in judgment, the stress of work, patients need to accept* just like a side effect of a drug or a natural history of a disease.

*, Unlike the engineering field, defining & controlling quality in medical therapeutics is a mystery exercise with multiple agendas!

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One of my otherwise  well behaving  patient ,  suddenly asked me this question ,  before leaving my  clinic  after a 15 minute consult .

Doctor  . . . I am taking the clopidgrel and aspirin  for 5 years like a vitamin tablet  . . . is that all right  doctor ?

I just got curious, I checked  the prescription again . Yeh ,  he was right !

I have  been mechanically writing  Tablet Clopitab  A  since 2008 !

Clopidogrel abuse long term

For what ?

Some sort of CAD !   Was it for ACS ?   No , it was for chronic stable angina . No PCI,  . . . no DES !

Why the hell  he is taking dual anti-platelet  therapy for 5 years ?

Some  body  , some  where  , has  prescribed it . This man  is taking it  for years together with absolute sanctity.

I was amused  . . . it is also  my mistake . Why it never struck me  to scrutinize the prescription ?

I thanked him . I  removed clopidogrel  from the list , and asked him to continue tablet Ecosprin 150mg  for some time .

( And  now I  had a genuine doubt  ! Does he have CAD at all ! I browsed his file , I couldn’t  find a true documentation for CAD  as I feared  !)

I asked him to get back with an  exercise test ,  . . .  if it comes negative i  can even stop the aspirin as well  I  explained  him  ! (Now he got amused !)

Final message

Who wants Knowledge ?

It is  dumped every  where , free of cost  . . .  both in real and cyber world .Applying it requires more sense  .  and my patient  taught me that  !

Patients  not only  help us  earn  our  bread  and butter , they  do  enrich  our brain  as well ! Never get humiliated when a patient teaches  you a lesson in medicine !

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It is  often  quoted  “Practice makes  every one  perfect”  . . .  Doctors continue to practice for ever  . . .If practice is only  a rehearsal  , when do they perform  for real ?

And , we know  a doctor spends his entire life time practicing  . . . In other words  doctors are only experimenting .

So , do not get fooled by his errors . Errors are bound to  happen  during their  practicing sessions !

The problem  with general public  is , they never understand this basic fact – medical  science  is nothing but  a , on going research on human body .If only  we understand this  we can accept  the millions of medical  mistakes*  that occur  every day in  the global  medical  profession . The major  aim of modern medical science  is to reduce that .

* Of course, negligence is a punishable offense . But,  we should also realise , non- negligent medical  mistakes are many fold higher than negligent ones .

While  a careful doctor will avoid negligent mistakes a thinking doctor will avoid   non -negligent mistakes also.

This puts onus back on doctors. We need to critically analyse , every

treatment modality we follow .

If you are a strong believer of   “Medicine is indeed  a  science and doctors are scientists ” , please read this article from British medical  journal and conclude  yourself.

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/328/7454/0-h

Further reading

The bestseller  How doctors think

Picture courtesy : Jupeter stock Images

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