Delivering the Diagnosis, Owning the Patient

Geri Amori gamori at COVERYS.COM
Mon Feb 15 17:14:08 UTC 2016

This is an amazing story, Ruth, and all too indicative of the overwhelm I see in providers I meet.  Often, it would seem, providers who want to do "the right thing" feel the pressure to "get things done quickly" and succumb to the numbing of day to day activities.  Life becomes a matter of "get it done" so that I'm not accused of "delaying."  And since test results, ordering more tests, getting to the bottom of the issue is part of the day to day work, the profound impact of those activities on the patient's perception and reality of their life and their health gets overshadowed by the "ordinariness" in the physician's world coupled with the overwhelming amount of it that needs to happen.   How can a human being hold in their hearts and minds the tremendous burden of the details and volume of work along with the compassion of maintaining mindful awareness of the human life being affected?

Please do not think I am making excuses for the behavior.  I'm not.  I'm saying we need to look at a system that allows this kind of communication to happen as well as the provider who is involved.

Why wasn't that scheduler trained about how to handle patient fear and concern?  Why was this information communicated while the physician was away?  Why wasn't there a process for that physician to be reached even though he is away with the message that he needs to talk with his patient?   Why wasn't there something in the system that reminded that physician that before he ordered a vast number of tests that he should communicate with his patient?

The kindest people can become mindlessly cruel or thoughtless in the face of pressure.  How are we, as a system, exacerbating that problem rather than helping?

I don't pretend to know the answers.  I do know that physicians are sometimes as much victims in the process as we patients are.

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