This is a painful topic for me to address,. But I will, since it is about a challenge for some patients:
What can Healthy Survivors do if mistreated?
Straddling both sides of the stethoscope, I hear of patients who are mistreated by physicians. A heartless delivery of bad news. Impatience with patients' anxiety, questions or tears.
Such stories tie my stomach in knots. Isolated incidents can hurt all physicians, including all those who sacrifice themselves and strive to do their best for every single patient.
My purpose today is not to analyze why clinicians may say insensitive comments or act in uncaring ways, but to offer a few options for Healthy Survivors who feel mistreated.
- Ask for compassion. “Dr. Smithjones, I’m frightened and uncomfortable. Can you help me through this, please?”
- Bring someone to advocate for you. "Dr. Smithjones, my loved one is frightened and uncomfortable. He doesn't want to complain, but I know a few words of encouragement from you would make a world of difference.
- Manage expectations. "Dr. Smithjones is an expert on my type of cancer and takes care of my medical problems well. Since her style is cool and hands off, I'll look for comfort elsewhere."
- Write a respectful note that explains your needs.
Patients should never be put in a situation of needing to ask for compassion. Focusing on whether it is right or wrong can distract patients from steps that help them get good care and live as fully as possible.