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Are you afraid of your doctor?

May 7, 2012

Actually many of us are. Doctors do not have any patience with us. They do not have time to answer our foolish questions. They certainly do not have the time to reassure us that we will live a long and healthy life. They tell us to get more and more tests done. This saves them the talk  time.

So on the first day when we visit a doctor she listens for a minimum of  five minutes, does some perfunctory pressing and poking for another five then quickly writes down all the things that need to get tested. Maybe we did this just three months ago but if it was for another doctor it will not work for this one. So off we go to get tested all over again. This is the age of the consultant and in this age every consultant distrusts every other consultant and doctor patient communication is not part of the treatment process.

In an earlier age it was. That was the age of the generalist  “family” doctor who asked a hundred questions before she took up her favorite testing tool: the stethoscope. She relied a great deal on her own diagnostic skill. She not only explained what was wrong, what was causing it, but how long it would take to get better. In between she was willing to talk on the phone or do home visits.

These doctors treated patients medically and psychologically. They were in their own way leveraging the placebo effect to great advantage. Patients trusted them, obeyed them, argued with them and truly believed that the doctor would cure them. The medicine they prescribed was more than a chemical molecule, it was a promise wrapped in goodwill.

Maybe this is an exaggerated picture but it captures well the spirit in which medical advice was given and how that empathy is completely missing in the doctor patient relationship today.

A related concept is that of patient empowerment and here you can read more about that.

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From → General Health

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