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Unforgettable
"A treasure... as poignant and tender and wise as Tuesdays with Morrie."
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Why do you think patient/physician communication can be so problematic?

Created: 03/23/15

Replies: 12

Posted Mar. 23, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1318

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Why do you think patient/physician communication can be so problematic?

While she was hospitalized Patricia often relied on Simon to be her advocate, intermediary and translator with the staff who occasionally seemed to misunderstand her wishes. Why do you think patient/physician communication can be so problematic?


Posted Apr. 26, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
suzanner

Join Date: 04/26/15

Posts: 27

RE: Why do you think patient/physician communication can be so problematic?

Doctors do not listen! They are convinced that their training in medicine has made them easily able to understand their patients. Patients are often poor at expressing themselves, sharing information, and are
not particularly good at asking questions. Doctors are equally artless in making this bridge, whether from lack of social perception or poor skills in inquiry of dialogue. Doctors also detest when someone outside the field knows a thing or two about medical science. Yet communication is a bi-lateral flow. In order for patients to manage the course of an illness and doctors to be effective stewards of a treatment program, they each have to meet in dialogue. The real healer-helpers of the medical profession are the nurses. They do the hard work, the heavy lifting, and have the connection to the patient because they are caregivers, not treatment planners. Plus technology has allowed/forced doctors to distance themselves from the patient. This is incorrect and does not help any one of us at all. Doctors are taught that intervention at all times is necessary. Sometimes intervention is impossible.


Posted Apr. 26, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
job

Join Date: 05/12/11

Posts: 11

RE: Why do you think patient/physician communication can be so problematic?

Physicians are under pressure to see more patients and have less time to spend with them. Patients also are hesitant to "bother" the doctor and will frequently tell the provider that they are "fine" when they really are not and should share their concerns. Health Care professionals, like those in other disciplines, usually speak the industry language which can be confusing for patients. I think every person who is a patient in a hospital or has a doctor's appointment should have another person with them to ask questions and take notes. Its very hard to get it all communicated correctly from both sides.


Posted Apr. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
antypam

Join Date: 08/14/14

Posts: 15

RE: Why do you think patient/physician communication can be so problematic?

No one was going to love and know and respect his mother like Simon did. Doctors (and nurses) probably have to have at least some degree of 'distance' to each patient relationship if for no other reason than to preserve their emotions to allow them to continue serving patient after patient, discharge after discharge, and death after death. But they also don't ever have the YEARS of relationship that will allow them to pick up on small hints of how the patient feels, and feel their primary job is to 'fix' rather than listen. That can work - as long as the patient has someone who WILL listen, and the doctor actually SHOULD 'fix' a person.


Posted Apr. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

Posts: 163

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RE: Why do you think patient/physician communication can be so problematic?

All too often discussions between doctors and patients involve elements of bad news - something none of us likes to give or receive. So doctors seek protection from the emotional difficulty of delivering bad news in medical jargon, technical data, "factual" presentations, and patients "protect" themselves from receiving it by asking few questions and poor listening. Both patient and doctor tend to approach medical situations with a mindset focused on treating a disease/problem rather than provide as good a quality of life as is possible under the medical circumstances. I thing Atul Gawande addresses this issue well in his recent book, Being Mortal


Posted Apr. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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kellilee

Join Date: 11/18/14

Posts: 48

RE: Why do you think patient/physician communication can be so problematic?

I think there needs to be more classes on the importance of bedside manner in medical school. I suspect each of us has a story to tell about a physician without appropriate patient communications skills. As a young adult, I was very influenced by an ER doctor that chastised me for using the emergency room for what turned out to be tendonitis and not the broken bone I thought I had. That was more than 20 years ago, and I still remember that doctor's name. The difference between the treatment by the nurses and technicians in Unforgettable compared with the treatment by the doctors is astounding, and (unfortunately) very common.


Posted Apr. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joyces

Join Date: 06/16/11

Posts: 392

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RE: Why do you think patient/physician communication can be so problematic?

I think there are problems and they are caused by both sides of this relationship. As a patient we are frequently not real forthcoming with information and do not always ask all the questions that we should. If you are like me I want answers and treatment and out of there but have learned to have the questions in mind before and ask specific questions about the treatment plant. As far as the doctors I am afraid they tend to be as we are with our children when they are young and are constantly asking why, how what and we are in the middle of something and sort of answer the quick and easy way. Conscious attempts by both parties to really listen and really speak our concerns are needed.


Posted Apr. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
elizabethh

Join Date: 06/25/11

Posts: 14

RE: Why do you think patient/physician communication can be so problematic?

I think often patients feel overwhelmed with what's going on, don't know what to ask and sometimes feel that they are bothering the physician. The physicians for their part are sometimes in a hurry and not always good at explaining things in a way that a patient can understand.


Posted Apr. 28, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dianem

Join Date: 10/25/12

Posts: 65

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RE: Why do you think patient/physician communication can be so problematic?

Most doctors don't really have the time to get to know their patients personally and patients often can't communicate their needs to the doctors in a clear manner. It so helps to have someone close to you to be an advocate between you and the doctor. I see that now dealing with elderly parents.


Posted Apr. 29, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mhayes

Join Date: 04/29/15

Posts: 8

RE: Why do you think patient/physician communication can be so problematic?

While in the hospital, patients are not always seen by the primary physician but by a hospitalist or specialist. It takes a certain personality to be empathetic with every patient seen and not every doctor has that trait, just as with any profession. Of course, doctors can be better listeners, yes the medical field has room to actually stop and listen to each person's need. Take into consideration how many people are sick, how many families need treatment explanations, and how many minutes in the day to visit and report all findings for each visit. It is more important for the sick patient to have an advocate for them, as Scott Simon was for his mother. Bravo.


Posted May. 02, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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donnac

Join Date: 03/26/14

Posts: 120

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RE: Why do you think patient/physician communication can be so problematic?

Having been in a similar situation as Patricia (although I was not dying) I know firsthand that when you are in pain and in a totally foreign environment it is so disorienting as to be crippling. I did not know "doctor-speak" or "hospital-speak" and could care less what they thought. I just wanted what I wanted but failed miserably in every attempt to convey it. Thankfully for me, and for Pat, that we both had a son who came to our rescue. In both instances the men we raised stepped in to interpret and advocate for us.

This lack of communication between patient and medical staff is something that I think is unsolvable because the patient is thrown into an alien environment that medical people live and breathe on a daily basis. There is little-to-no common language. It would be like dropping a wounded kitten into a hospital emergency room for humans. The staff wouldn't know the first thing about what the kitten needed beyond the most obvious. If human medical professionals were as intuitive and compassionate as veterinary professionals communication and care would improve vastly.


Posted May. 06, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
heatherf

Join Date: 11/13/14

Posts: 17

RE: Why do you think patient/physician communication can be so problematic?

All of these reasons and we are taught to respect Doctors and not question their authority. Before internet, people didn't access all this information. There is still this old school way of thinking mixed with a younger generation coming in.


Posted May. 08, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marganna

Join Date: 10/14/11

Posts: 90

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RE: Why do you think patient/physician communication can be so problematic?

As has been stated numerous ways in the previous replies, this is a complicated issue. I agree patients have difficulty speaking up, being clear, being assertive, etc etc. for various reasons - the 1st reason definitely could be the strange situation they find themselves in - illness & alien surroundings. Once my drugged & almost comatose heart attack husband was asked to sign a form for transporting to another hospital with one side effect being "death". I signed, he lived & we laugh now but how stupid. Our entire health care system is a mess. As a result the doctors are too busy & I agree with above that they have need to protect themselves with an emotional shield. That being said: for whatever reason(s) many doctors are "technicians", do not know how to talk/listen with a patient. Sometimes it is their FAULT, sometimes it's the system's FAULT or both then throw in a person who may or may not have communications skills, scared, in pain...well, it's easy to see the problem. HOWEVER, that doctor that wouldn't return Scott's phone calls...that's criminal!


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