Monday, June 8, 2009
Being patient with patients.
Reading Kirst's frustration on mishandled medical records and also Joey's rough time with her doctors, I cannot help but wonder if this has become a general practice.
We know that not all doctor is an a**h**le. Some do try desperately to be kind, sympathetic and extremely patient with their patient despite the many hurdles they encounter every day - the far-from-ideal patient load, the severe lack of supplies, the extreme poverty which comes in many forms, shapes and sizes. But even the most patient doctor has his limits, the breaking point, which when reached, causes them to snap at an uncooperative or agitated patient.
I hope that they are not proud of this. Maybe nobody encourages them to react this way as early in their medical education, they were taught time and time again that they should never become hardened and numb. But despite their many personal promises and resolutions, somehow they always end up doing what they shouldn’t do.
Could it be because of a mother in labor who seems to move too slowly? Or because another mother cries uselessly instead of pushing her baby out? Or because a son in the Emergency Room pesters them to admit his unwell, though relatively stable, mother amid a sea of patients needing urgent attention? Or because a man has allowed his mass to get so huge that you cannot imagine how he could have endured it for five long years? Or because a stubborn patient does not understand the meaning of maintenance medication?
Yes, nurses are prone to irritation too. Whether it is because the supply of alcohol, cotton or linens has run out; or they are forced to push the heavy stretcher beds and oxygen tanks around the hospital as if they were born to do such work; or they have not slept in more than 48 hours; or somebody has made the scary observation that their ankles are swollen from all the running, pushing and crouching—somehow. I guess no matter how hard they try to avoid it, they do reach that point when they become irritable, seemingly less sympathetic and harsh to their patients.
Sure stress and pressure sometimes cause them to snap. But it is during such hellish moments, more than ever, that they should remember that their patients entrust their health, and their lives to them, that they spend the night and days waiting for their turn just to be able to see them in their clinic and when they do, the last thing they want to hear is a surly doctor telling them, “Sorry your pain is just in your head!"
They owe it to their patients to always try—and try even harder—to be more patient, understanding and sympathetic, like every doctor and nurse should be.
I hope Kirst next visit to the hospital will be more pleasant...