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Advice To Physicians: Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

My newly admitted patient was at the end of a very long struggle with a devastating genetic disorder. He had been treated by some of the finest experts in America for his rare disease, and had come to my rehab unit for aggressive physical and occupational therapy. He was exhausted, but mustered the energy to tell me (probably the 100th physician to treat him) his complicated story.

Listening to this man, and examining his frail body, I realized that he had already explored every treatment option and avenue available. He had extensive conversations about his genetic variant, and which drugs could possibly modify his course. He had tried pretty much everything once, with little improvement. He told me that the team of experts at my hospital were rallying to repeat some of the costly treatments that had failed previously, to see if maybe this time they could make a difference.

As our eyes met, I realized that we both knew that these treatments were not worthwhile. I could see that he didn’t want to be “non-compliant” with his physicians’ recommendations, and was reluctantly willing to give their plans a shot. I knew that he needed to hear that it was okay to say “no.”

I took in a deep breath and voiced what we both knew to be true – there was no further need for IV medication. Now was the time to make the most of the function he had, to get him home with family support, and to focus on enjoying life rather than fighting a disease.

The relief brought him to tears. I began to put his socks back on his cold feet. He asked if I could leave them off.

I joked with him softly, “I guess your feet just want to be free.”

He smiled and nodded.

I didn’t order any tests or treatments, I just stood next to him in the moment.

And sometimes, that’s what a doctor is supposed to do.

Why Hospitals And Physicians Should Get Serious About Patient-Centered Care

Health care professionals are a cynical lot.   We joke about the “fad or buzz word of the month”…usually some vague concept heralded by the powers on high.   Our job is to promote the idea…knowing full well that the “next big thing” is probably right around the corner.

Take “Patient-Centered”…it sure feels like a buzz word.   I suspect most hospital and physician executives, and their ad agency partners, would agree.  But this time things are very different.

Why Hospitals and Physicians Should Get Serious About Patient-Centered Care

Reason #1 – Patients Are Starting To Discover That Their Doctors & Hospitals Are Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Mind The Gap*

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