I have seen many people, who ask for a doctor’s counsel, only to disregard it when the time comes. For long, I was under the assumption, albeit, conceit on my part, that it was the patient’s fault. But now I am wiser. A lot wiser.
What you say, how you say it, how you communicate, is the only thing that makes the difference. Body language. Your eyes. Your face. Your attitude. Your behavior. Your compassion. Simple. It is you, who is to blame for the greater cascade of pills used haphazardly.
It is easier to brush off the responsibility, shift the blame. We all do it. We all talk about it, openly, in cheap tones, in harsh decibels. We have all had days when we have lost our head, our tolerance and fired an almost invisible bullet at the patient. They can be a handful, yes, but it is the way we behave that makes us the bigger person. And trust me, in this world, being the bigger person is an achievement.
We all want our patient alive, healthy and happy.
What many don’t know is – we are the key to that outcome.
Whether it is your relative, with a bursitis, in tremendous pain, approaching a homeopathy or ayurvedic doctor for another medication, just because the pain is so severe and she had tried everything…with no vain.
Whether it is your maid with a cellulitis, to whom you prescribe the medication, but she decides to only take that medication for a day since her leg improved.
Whatever it is, you have to stand strong and upright in your counsel. Your counsel can make that difference.
Patients hear stuff from everywhere. They prepare before they visit you, revising everything they have heard from another doctor, or everything they have understood from a more knowledgeable person in the family. And the smarter ones, have gone through pages of Wikipedia/WebMD. They are not fools. They are not dumb. They may have low know-how, but they are the only way you will succeed.
They have strong perceptions, strong opinions. But it is your and only your duty to shed them and create the illusion of medicine that they can’t perceive it. You talk to them, you counsel them, you explain the medication, you calm their fears, you leave them in a rest, where can they believe you and take your treatment. Trust works both ways. Much like a placebo, the very behavior you portray can make a huge difference.
You can argue – ‘I have five hundred patients to see in a day.’ ‘I have no time for wasting time with illiterate patients.’ ‘I can’t spend ten minutes per patient!’ Well, tough, you are going to have to make an effort, otherwise you are doing more harm than good. Coz, maybe that maid will contribute to antibiotic resistance, and your relative will resort to other therapies rather than the standard if she develops cancer.
Ever imagined why, despite a plethora of diseases, the west manages to outlive us? They have the counsel that we don’t have. They have doctors who understand their problems, listen to them and give them a holistic treatment plan. We don’t have to do everything they do, but borrowing a page from their books is something we can all implement.
Learn bed-side manners. Learn the art of talking politely. Don’t resort to theatrics. Be simple. Respect your patients. Be professional. But most importantly, counsel with the most important words. Your words go a long way into catering to trust.
In the words of a patient – “You wouldn’t be a doctor if you didn’t have me to learn from.”