HiResSome of the most sought-after, talented physicians can be amazingly clueless when it comes to providing compassionate patient care.  When it comes to providing exceptional service, there is no greater time of need then when people find themselves or their loved ones in the hospital at their most vulnerable and anxious. Instead of reducing the patient’s anxiety, some only enhance it.

Most patients and their families are scared and anxious when visiting the hospital.  With so much attention in healthcare being placed on the patient experience, and rightfully so, it pays for all care providers, especially doctors, to understand the impact they have on their patients…even on their youngest ones.

The following memory, graciously being shared, comes from a very special young man who has had the misfortune of spending way too much of their life in and out of hospitals. This story illustrates just how important it is to remember the little details of courtesy and respect, and how easy it really is to build loyalty, establish trust, and turn what can be an anxious experience into a great memory that lasts a lifetime.

The “Amazing and Talented” Dr. O

“When I was ten, going on eleven, I found myself in the offices of Dr. O (names shortened for privacy). He was, as my parents and I were told repeatedly by multiple individuals, one of the best orthopedic surgeons who specialized in children. His waiting room was filled with a plethora of toys and the sort of average tropical fish tank one grows to expect in doctors’ offices. After waiting there for a good half-hour past the appointment time, my name would get called, and my parents and I would get escorted to a room where the whole waiting game would begin again. I honestly didn’t care about the wait back then, it meant that I got to be playing Gameboy and raising my Pikachu another level instead of going to school. After a good long while, some twitchy nervous student (intern? resident?) would come in and ask a slew of questions, silently poke and prod me, then write everything down on a chart and disappear.

I concluded that he liked to listen to the sound of His own voice…

It was only a good twenty minutes later (usually) that Dr. O would make an appearance, a swarm of meek doctors in training following in tow. He would sit down with his tape recorder, have one of his lackeys put up my most recent X-ray, and then begin to talk into his tape recorder. To this day I’m sure he wouldn’t have noticed, or cared, if I hadn’t been there (he might even have been glad of it). Naturally, as a ten-year-old kid, I was fascinated by the tape recorder. I had always wanted to steal it and gain access to the secrets it held, to decode the strange terminology he spoke into it. I asked Dr. O once if he used it because he’d forget what he’d thought otherwise, and after an obvious dismissal of my question I concluded he used it because he liked to listen to the sound of his own voice. Listening to Dr.O speak into that electronic appendage was pretty much the only interaction I would have with him. If I had ever asked a question during his recording, it was either ignored or the tape was put on pause (with obvious disdain) so he could give the answer to my parents. He rarely ever spoke to me. Even when he was done recording his brilliance, he would tell my parents what the next steps in treatment were, never me. He never said my name, I’d bet he never bothered to learn it in my years with him (it was on the file if he’d ever need it), referring to me only as “the patient” to his recorder or “your son” when speaking to my parents. Dr. O might have been a great doctor, but he was a horrible person, and it’d taken me quite a while to realize that.

“Capable” Just Not Enough

People love to go on and on about healthcare, but really it’s just like any other industry. There are, more or less, two types of people one finds in the medical field. Those that are there because they want to be, because they care about people and what they do; and the others who seem to have just found themselves in the profession (for whatever reason) and go through the motions, because it’s all they’ve ever done. Of course, just because an individual does his job mechanically doesn’t mean he isn’t capable, but sometimes “capable” just is not enough. Patients feel better when their doctors and nurses treat them as people instead of a compilation of facts and figures written down on a bedside chart. These patients are also more likely to heal faster, whether due to the effects of a positive atmosphere/attitude or because they actually listened to the advice of the doctor that treated them humanely instead of just being the self-inflated ego in the room.”