A week ago, I underwent surgery and was placed under observation for a few days.
While the doctors displayed great professionalism during surgery, their contact time with me usually lasted less than five minutes each day.
I am aware that doctors are busy people, and a minute spent with a patient would mean one less for other tasks. But this zero-sum scenario strains the doctor-patient relationship.
So while we are thinking about ways to ease the bed crunch in public hospitals, we should also ponder over the delivery of care.
I know that doctors are advised to maximise the contact time with patients and make every second count. This utilitarian approach aims to allay any concerns the patient may have, so he emerges satisfied from talking to the doctor.
But are patients really satisfied? Besides discussing practical issues, could small talk be deemed “practical”? Are our public hospital doctors under too much stress? How else can the doctor-patient relationship be improved?
Goh Kang Shiong
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