Thursday, August 21, 2008

Doctors' humanness is important

Working as a public health researcher, I probably have a greater-than-average knowledge of what a good medical interaction should be like. My family recently had several interactions with health care professionals, and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised and pleased both at the quality of care and at the humanness of the interactions.

My husband was recently hospitalized for his third bowel obstruction in 8 years. This being his third time, we knew what to expect. There would be x-rays and scans. There would be an NG tube. There would be waiting. Lots of waiting. And hopefully, the obstruction would resolve without surgery. Happily, this was the case, and my husband was only in the hospital for about 3-1/2 days.

What we weren’t expecting were some truly excellent providers in our little local hospital in suburban Boston. From the ER nurse to the floor nurses to the surgeons (2 MDs and a resident) who cared for my husband, each was personable, friendly, not rushed, and really seemed to care. I was particularly struck by how everyone took the time to talk to my 9 year old son when he visited his dad. They asked him questions, discussed baseball, did whatever they needed to in order to make him feel included and reassured during this stressful time.

Shortly after my husband’s hospital stay, we were on vacation and noticed a suspicious red swelling on my son’s leg. We made an appointment at a local pediatric care center, and the physician assistant determined it was an abscess that needed to be drained by a surgeon. The PA was very calm and reassuring, and quickly made an appointment for us with a local surgeon. We drove over to the surgeon’s office, and everyone there, from the receptionist to the nurse to the surgeon himself, was friendly and supportive. My son was extremely nervous about the prospect of having both shots and surgery, and the staff, especially the surgeon, did a great job calming him down. After it was all over, my son even commented that the surgeon was so nice, almost like a grandfather, and that he liked how he explained everything to him before he did it.

These experiences made me realize that the human factors – friendliness, taking time, getting to know each other – really make a difference in the quality of health care interactions. We were fortunate that our recent interactions were positive ones. I can only imagine that more abrupt and gruff providers would have made these two experiences that much more stressful.

P.S. Thanks to Kevin, M.D. for linking to my comment on his blog!

11 comments:

My name is Andy. said...

That is so very true! There is nothing worse then feeling like crap and having someone who is distracted and rushed coming in to poke and prode you.

I'm glad you got great care!

In Due Time said...

Coming over from ICLW...


Thanks for the patients view on things. I work at a doctors office and try to make a point to be friendly. It's hard some times dealing with bitchy/sick people. I try though.

Kristin said...

I'm glad y'all got such great care. I hear horror stories from people about their OB experiences when dealing with IF. I am so grateful to have had good docs so far.

Jaymee said...

Sorry about all your med issues. You hit the nail on the head, having good interaction with medical professionals makes all the difference. It is sad though that good interactions seem unexpected.

(ILCW)

CappyPrincess said...

The compassionate care makes all of the difference in the world. A person with great medical knowledge and horrible bedside is not the professional I would want to deal with, even for life and death issues.

ICLW

Bec said...

It's so good to hear that you got good care, so often it's just in and out without that human factor.

iclw

seriously? said...

Here from ICLW. I am a volunteer EMT and I know that it is so important that we be nice to the patients and kind.

Glad your experiences were good!

Kim said...

If only all doctors and hospitals could be like this! iclw

Hilary said...

It's so, so true. Unfriendly health care workers can make a bad time horrible, but a bit of compassion goes such a long way. I bet they would really enjoy a little thank you note. (Oh MOM...)

Arpee said...

Wow, sounds like a great place to live over there. It's true in any kind of human interaction and it's even truer in the healthcare industry. Relationships and taking the time really make a difference!

Jenn said...

So true. I worked for years as a nurse overnight at the hospital. You are so busy and rushed but it's important not to let the patient see that. (ICLW)