Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

Psychiatrists Must Maintain Their Distance

In the Clinical Encounters case featured here two days ago, I presented the story of a psychiatrist who goes for a urological procedure and discovers that one of his former patients is the nurse assisting.  People wrote in to suggest ways he should handle this awkward situation and I was struck by the idea that some suggested he tell the urologist that he knows the nurse in a social setting (because he can’t tell the other doc that the nurse was his psychiatric patient) and the assumption that the urologist would be understanding, and that perhaps the urologist should have policies in place in case of such events.

Do surgeons think this way? I assumed the urologist would be angry–his time had been allotted for the procedure, and it’s a surgical procedure with professional staff, what’s the big deal?  To a surgeon, I think you see the best, and if the best is your friend, then so be it, a body’s a body.  It’s not unusual for clergymen to be treated by their parishioners, for medical staff to be treated at their own hospital and by members of their own department, and for surgeons to operate on colleagues.  In small towns, there is often very little choice as to who delivers your baby or shrinks your head.

Traditionally, psychiatry is a bit different, and we maintain some distance.  In the program where I trained, this view was not felt to make sense: if you’re sick, you go to the best, and we are the best.  Psychiatrists would have their family members come in for care, and there were times that people in the department were admitted to the inpatient unit (and yes, I mean psychiatrists as well as nurses, staff,  residents, and med students).  For those who insist that the stigma of a label or a treatment necessarily destroys you– it ain’t so.

It all makes me, personally, a little uneasy– I like my privacy, even for the most mundane of medical things, though I do think that if I had some unusual, or difficult-to-treat condition and the ‘best’ was someone close to home, I’d get over it very quickly.

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*


You may also like these posts

Read comments »


Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »