Friday, October 23, 2009

Bedside manners

Dr. Pauling sighed, looked at her clipboard and said, Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that the break severed a nerve in your hand. The good news is that we reattached it and there is a good chance that it will regenerate and you will regain the use of your hand." (P151)

Bedside manners are important in dealing with patients. There are several instances of patients relatives attacking doctors particularly in our government hospitals which are understaffed and overworked. Very often these irate relatives not only get violent but also vandalise the hospital. This has led to a special class being introduced in Medical colleges : How to handle patients and their relatives. Young medical students are taught the importance of being empathetic and breaking the news gently.

Discussing the relevance of this new subject in Medical education a doctor friend narrated a funny story:
One day while making rounds in the ICU, the nurse told me that old man who was in the bed wasn't doing too well and that I should break the news to his young wife.I asked his wife to step outside the room and told her straight off that I didn't like how her husband looks. I was shocked when she replied,

"Well, neither did I. But he's rich, and he's really good with the children."

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