Thursday, April 5, 2012

Who's In Charge, Here?

Yesterday, I was intrigued by this post on KevinMD :
I am a physician who was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent laryngectomy four years ago. Prior to being diagnosed and treated for cancer I did not welcome or encourage my patients’ participation in their own care. Admittedly, there were instances when such input was helpful, but more often I regarded patients with data based on information obtained from the Web as a challenge to my expertise and authority.   I often felt frustrated when I had to explain why the information provided was inaccurate or not relevant to their illness.
     After being diagnosed and treated for a serious illness myself, I changed my perspective about patient participation in their care. I often experienced shortcomings in the medical and surgical care I received.  There were many instances when my physicians failed to diagnose or correctly treat medical conditions, where my input that was based on information I got from the Web was instrumental in improving my care.
Read the above quotation, close your eyes, and think about this person.

What are you thinking?

I sincerely hope that y'all are better people than I am. Because my first thought was not one of concern for this very unfortunate individual who is dealing with enormous challenges not only due to cancer, but the loss of his voice.

Of course I realized those things -- but they were a nanosecond behind a wicked and smug and fleeting thought that it was only fair.

I couldn't believe that I had the capability of being so callus and unfeeling.

Nobody deserves cancer and the loss of a larynx. Especially if that person has the honesty and courage to publicly discuss their change of perspective in the midst of such a devastating disease. Honestly, I do feel a large measure of empathy for what this person has had to endure and for what challenges lie ahead.

But I think I'm glad that I didn't meet this physician before he/she had cancer. I don't agree -- but I can understand a bit of frustration when physician is forced by an educated patient
to explain their rationale for treatment. It takes time and effort. BUT -- I have issues with a physician in a physician/patient relationship declaring that he/she has authority in respect to that patient's care.

Excuse me?

I am the ultimate authority figure in my care. A physician has  zero -- zilch -- nada -- authority to force me to do anything.

As an RN, yes. Under a contractual employment situation, yes, the physician that I am working for does have a certain measure of authority over what I do.

But as a patient? Pffft.

Head over to the original post and read it in it's entirety. It's very good, and a great reminder to us all that to walk a mile in someone else's shoes -- or to spend some time on the other side of the physician/patient relationship -- can only be good for the world of medicine as a whole.

You can buy your very own Littmann Classic II stethoscope, pictured above, here. My Littmann is a Classic II, too. But it's burgundy.


Unknown said...

I've had to leave several doctors b/c they didn't treat me a as a partner in my own care.

I do feel bad for doctors faced with patients who believe everything they read, but they have an obligation to talk to those patients and maybe point them towards materials that are more reliable (not to tell them to stop reading and just do what they are told).

It's also terrible b/c there are plenty of us who are good, careful readers and critical thinkers and who can (and should) advocate for ourselves. My GP would be the first to tell people that I know more about my illnesses than he does; that's why he's a keeper. My rheum would not say that (and he'd be right), but he still listens and considers what I say. Doctors who don't are doing their patients a tremendous disservice.

Anonymous said...

With a doctor, it's a team work. Or it's nothing. I have change three time of doctor because they weren't listening to me.