- Patient: n. an individual awaiting or under medical care and treatment
- Patient: adj. able to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with problems or difficult people
We ask a lot of patience from our patients. Anyone who’s been a patient knows there are long lines (some more than others) at the doctor’s office, hospital or ED. And it is easy to get frustrated, especially when you’re not feeling well.
Why am I not being taken care of? I’ve been waiting for hours. Someone make me feel better. I should be in front of the line.
Not only do patients wait in line to see the doctor, but also endure the uncomfortable prodding and probing of physical examination.
Tell me if this hurts. Breathe, this may be a little uncomfortable. I’m going to try and feel your internal organs by pressing uncomfortably hard on your stomach. Try and relax while I bang you with a hammer. Now, I’m going to take vials and vials of blood. Oh, and I’ll need you to pull down your pants also.
Every week we have rounds with a retired professor. A student presents a case and together we review the case and examine the patient. Last week we had a Russian patient who only spoke Russian. I managed to interpret enough with the limited Russian that I knew. He did not appreciate ten students and a professor asking questions and listening to his heart. It did not help that communication was limited and we could not clearly convey our findings.
What is wrong with my heart? Is he (the professor) not telling me because it’s bad?
He was clearly annoyed and when I returned next morning to draw blood he refused.
One the other hand, I recently wrote up an admission note on a patient in my ward. He was the nicest old man I have had the pleasure of meeting in the hospital. He patiently answered all of my questions and let me examine him.
Do whatever you want. I’m always available. If you forget something you can come back later, I’ll be here.
There are two kinds of patients. There are those who just want to be left alone in their suffering. And there are those who are willing to share their story despite their poor condition.
To both patients, thank you for letting my colleagues and me practice on you so that we can become better physicians.