Medliorate

Improving medical students

Tempered Expectations of Care

Posted by medliorator on March 18, 2009

By Sarah Averill

How should you handle patients who don’t want to follow your medical advice? How should we deal with the negative emotions that some of them will inevitably bring out in us? What does respect for patients look like? And what should we expect — if anything — from our patients?

One of the most jarring experiences in medical school is hearing doctors denigrate patients… “You are probably too young to have watched the TV show ‘All in the Family’, but this woman is a Meathead, just like Archie’s son-in-law. She’s not going to listen. I don’t know why she’s here.”

… I come from a long line of “meatheads,” people who want to come to their own conclusions about what diagnoses they will accept and what medicine they want to swallow.

labeling your patients and speaking disrespectfully of them can lead to all sorts of bias, set up negative expectations, and lead to suboptimal care. We can easily forget that the patient’s wishes are consummate. It is the patient’s right to refuse treatment — even to refuse being “labeled” with a diagnosis. We too easily forget that disease labels can have devastating consequences for patients. It is our responsibility to respectfully, and patiently, help them understand why we think they may have a particular disease and why what we are offering them — a name for their suffering, and something to relieve it, such as drugs, surgery, physical therapy — may prove beneficial.

Honor Your Mother and Other “Meathead” Patients [The Differential]

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