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Service in Medicine

2015-10-03

One thing that medical students are not taught is the essential transaction that is part of every  encounter between doctor and patient.  The doctor should go in to the patient thinking that he wants to give the patient something and that the patient is asking for that something.  The first question is “what does the patient want?” and “how can I give it to him?”

The thing that always intruded between me and the patient in the above-described type of encounter was that the patient seemed to be wanting something that was inappropriate.  There is no annoyance, to a doctor, so large as when the patient says he wants drugs, narcotic pain-killers for example.  This type of request often comes from a relatively young man who doesn’t seem to have much wrong with him.

There is nothing so destructive as the loss of concentration on this basic transaction.  No matter how annoying the patient can be, the doctor must ignore these annoyances and focus on providing the patient with what he wants, treatment or explanation, usually a prescription.

The loss of focus and surrender to the annoyances leads to a destructive and obstreperous encounter with the patient.  Harsh words that are not retracted cannot be retracted later.  There’s no exception to the demand to just give the patient what he wants in the real world.

In the world of interpersonal relation harsh words can never be taken back.

 

 

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