Friday, January 21, 2011

Bedside Manners

In the last three or four weeks, I have had cause to spend quality time with quite few medical people. And I've noticed a distinct difference in the way they're behaving from say...a year or two ago.

For one thing, they smile more. Now you might not think that means much, but let me tell you, when you're apprehensive or even outright afraid a smile makes all the difference in the world. A smile says, "You're not gonna die right this minute. Maybe tomorrow, but not right now." So smile. A lot.

They look you in the eye. Hello, if you're gonna be touching body parts that only my spouse usually sees, then at least have the courtesy to look at me like I'm a person. Grant me that much dignity when I'm sitting on a gurney in a paper gown that leaves a whole lot of uncovered territory. Let me know I'm more than a name on a clipboard.

They answer questions. I remember a time when a doctor pretty much brushed off all the bits and pieces they considered minor concerns. Let me tell you...nothing is minor to me. If you believe that, I have a spot reserved for you on a deserted island (and I do mean deserted). If I ask you a question, its because I need an answer. I'm quite intelligent enough to find out most things on my own. If I can't, that's why I came to see you. And paid you good money for the privilege.

They listen to the subtext when you're talking. Heh. The question to me was, "What triggers your asthma attacks?"


Technician looks around. "Where's your inhaler?" (Subtext: I understand this is a stressful situation for you. Let's be prepared.)

And finally, they take the time you deserve. Yep, I understand that time is money. But I'm worth it. And if I'm not, then I need to see someone else, you know?

Like I said at the beginning, I've had quite a bit of time with doctors, nurses, technicians, clerks and I want to take my hat off to all of them. In terribly stressful situations they've all gone out of their way to make my days, nights, minutes to hours, bearable. Thank you!



  1. I want to see the doctors, nurses and others in the profession you've seen.
    I'm glad you've gotten outstanding service.

  2. During the last drama with my father and septicemia, I can honestly say every one of the medical and general hospital staff were extremely professional and they understood the massive stress we were under and checked on us and let us use 'side' doors and their own staff room from coffee etc

  3. I firmly believe that the staff can make all the difference in how well you recover/deal with a crisis.

  4. You're very right,
    Anny. I think a good reason for this is that they are using more nurse practitioners and technicians to manage the coughs and colds so that Doctors can manage to give more of that time. And those nurses are perfectly qualified to handle those short term problems just fine for us.

  5. I absolutely LOVE my GP; he always acts as if he has all the time in the world when he's seeing me, and I never feel as if he's talking to me 'with one hand on the door'.

    Contrast that with the idiot drs down here....I took my youngest for a physical and all the dr did was look in his eyes and ears, and listen to his lungs. Then he asked me if I had any concerns, and signed the form for his sports. The kid didn't even have to wear the paper gown. And immunizations? I had to take him to another clinic for them.

  6. About two years ago my doctor moved to another city and the rest of that practice decided to no longer accept my insurance. I found a walk-in clinic that is open 365 days a year from 8 AM - 10 PM. I see the same doctor every time (though in an emergency I could see whoever is available). I have had better, more consistent care in the last two years that all the years before that.

    When I need to go to the doctor, I look up her schedule on the computer and go when she's there... that's usually at least four days out of each week.

  7. I'm so glad you've had such a good experience. Being sick is stressful enough, having someone treating you who honestly seems to care can really help.

  8. Well, as a medical person I'm glad to hear it! The ability to listen may be the most important attribute of a doctor, nurse, lab tech, everyone involved in health care.

  9. Having had plenty of dealings with both, yes! Treating the patient as a person is the most wonderful thing a medical professional can do.

    (And if I ever found the orderly who on the last day of my mother's life demanded "Well, who wipes your ass when you're at home?", it better not be when he's standing in front of my car.)

  10. Like you, I've had quite a few visits in the last year to various health professionals. The difference in the way I was treated at various offices was surprising to me. My GP's office has always been great, but some of the specialists -- oi!

    One thing I've discovered is that medicine is as much an art as a science. Finding the right person is as important as finding a solution to the problem...