Poor bedside manner


IMG_2290Okay, I’ll call this ophthalmologist Jim.  And I’ll keep the Detroit area hospital nameless – just in case I ever need their services.

Took my 84 year old father to this renowned institution yesterday to see if they could help him gain back some of his lost vision.  I wasn’t expecting they could help him, but it was important to my pops to ask again because “maybe there is new technology that can give me some lift.”

We all know that the doctors can see notes and charts from previous visits, and that we were told twice in the past five years that there wasn’t much that could be done to help my dad with his poor vision due to some deep scarring in his eyes.  And I’m not saying it was intentional, but this doctor made me feel like shit as he seemed to just go through the motions with us.  He seemed interested in studying what was wrong with my dad’s eyes but he didn’t seem to care about my dad and ‘his story’ – the one he kept trying to share with this younger fellow.

There is an old guy sitting in the chair, me sitting in the corner because my dad needs help getting in and out of these appointments.  The doctor has his back to this hard-of-hearing old guy that is fighting to stay awake in the dimly lit room, and he’s firing away questions that my dad couldn’t hear.  I had to answer several of the questions on his behalf and then at some point, I stopped – because I was enabling this doctor to have a poor bedside manner.

He barely faced my dad as he spoke to him.  Never once fully squared his shoulders toward my father. So as I stopped answering and my dad was answering with “pardon me,” it forced this doc to look over his shoulder and ask the question again.  Sometimes he didn’t even do that, he just raised his voice and asked again.

If you’re in or heading into the medical field, make sure you don’t skip the class on how to work with patients. The class that explains that the greatest skill you can bring to the clinic is your ability to listen.  The ability to really hear what is being said, and to understand and empathize with the patient.  Especially senior citizens.  They come seeking help, and often, they simply want someone that will listen to them and hear them out.  And yes, oftentimes it’s rambling about better days of past but frankly, that’s part of the therapy of the visit.  I paid the $35 co-pay, I expected more than what I got.

(I’m sure Jim is a nice, well-intentioned doctor, and I didn’t call him out on this – no need for any discomfort, just wanted some help for my dad and he held the key to any answers.)

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