Make patient sensitization a compulsory course for doctors

For the patients to have a better chance at recovery

Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

I live in India and we are home to some of the world’s best doctors. Many more are doing wonders in the medical field in other countries of the world. And yet, this is the country where every other day I come across a case of a doctor’s insensitive treatment of a patient.

Very recently, one of my uncle’s has been diagnosed with severe stomach ulcers and some damage to the liver. Without a complete set of test reports and diagnosis, the doctor declares a poor prognosis, declares a case of liver cirrhosis and gives my uncle a few months at max.

The second opinion, thankfully shows that it is a treatable problem and would require a detailed test and opinion from a senior doctor who is supposed to be in the city in a few days.

However, the first opinion of the highly insensitive doctor has planted a seed of worry in my uncle’s heart.

This isn’t the first time I came across such insensitivity. When I suffered an acute gastrointestinal attack about 8 years ago, I was still in my early twenties. One of the consulting doctors told me that if I continued with my current lifestyle and habits I would definitely suffer from liver cancer in less than a year. I was shocked and numb and left wondering as to what habits he was referring to. I hated smoke, I didn’t love drinks either. The only bad habits were perhaps irregular food timings and sleep schedule apart from work stress.

It is common knowledge that worry and stress can induce gastrointestinal problems. For someone already suffering from such a problem, creating a point of worry is like administering poison.

I wonder if there is a compulsory patient sensitization course for medical practitioners. Because there should be.

I agree that being upfront about a disease that has manifested and its prognosis is right; but if the same is not confirmed and a proper diagnosis is pending, the doctors need to have basic sensitivity towards patients. Even if the patient has been diagnosed with a terminal disease, it should be considered important to treat them with some dignity and care.

Where a few insensitive words can start a barrage of worrisome questions in a patient’s mind, a few words of care and hope can turn the tables on the disease. There is so much power in positive words, thoughts and actions, it is unimaginable.

They say love can bring people back from the dead. Agreed, doctors cannot love their patients, nor do they need to. But, they can definitely instill hope and faith in their patients through a certain degree of sensitivity and care.

This article is not targeted at all practicing medical doctors because frankly, I know of many really good and kind souls serving humanity.

But, there are those who are often too upfront, sometimes to the point of being rude. More so, when a proper diagnosis is still awaited. For them, I’d say hold your horses. You aren’t God. You don’t need to prescribe a death date. Your profession warrants saving lives. Do that.

Be kind — your patient is already suffering.

Be polite — your patient is already scared.

Be caring — your patient is in need.

Be understanding — your patient may be hypersensitive or an over-thinker.

Your words and your attitude can be the difference between the life and death of your patient.

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