I was getting increasingly frustrated. Every time I tried to ask my patient a question, her husband would answer. And, even more annoying, he was sarcastic. Are you having more trouble with your mouth lately?
From in front of me: Yes, there is quite a bit more pain.
From across the room: Of course she is, Doc! Otherwise why would we be here? Jeez, can’t you see that things are worse?
After a few minutes, I recommend scheduling some biopsies in the operating room.
From in front of me: I understand. I hope this will help get us some answers.
From across the room: C'mon, Doc! Why can’t you just take the samples right now? This will cost us more! Why do we have to keep coming back? Maybe we should go see an expert!
I kept my composure this time. Fortunately, I had recently read a quote from noted physician and writer William Carlos Williams who once observed: There’s nothing like a difficult patient to show us ourselves.
Amen. And I might add, not just the patients are difficult.
The following is feedback received for this blog:
||This is a great blog/format. Too many patients know too little about their health and medical care, in part because they see MDs on a pedestal and are afraid to speak with them. I am a big fan of personalizing medical care, which helps patients "take ownership" of their health and better manage their lives.|