Patients and their caregivers often feel that they are not in a position to question doctors.
They also do not make much effort to understand the treatment they are undergoing.
Why are we so passive when it comes to our health? A number of socio-cultural factors appear to be the culprit:
Casual attitude to health
People often cite a lack of time as a reason to delay visits to the doctor. Consultations are put off until the situation becomes an emergency.
Patients who seek help at the eleventh hour tend to accept whatever course of treatment is prescribed to them.
Patients and their caregivers are sometimes ignorant about their medical issues.
Despite the wealth of information in books and on the Internet, how many of us bother to pore over them in order to understand the treatment we are undergoing?
We also do not ask our doctors for more information about our health issues and treatment methods.
High regard for medical practitioners
The medical profession and its practitioners are held in high esteem by the public, especially the elderly, as they play an important role in saving lives and providing medical care.
Hence, we tend to accept their words without question. The attitude that they are professionals and hence should
know best also aggravates the situation.
Medical professionals, like the rest of us, are humans. They also make mistakes.
Therefore, we should not hesitate to ask them about our condition and treatment prescribed.
These factors aside, the following areas can also be improved:
Better bedside manner
Visits to a doctor need not be the adult equivalent of a dreaded parent-teacher meeting.
Doctors can reduce patients' stress by exercising greater sensitivity when informing them about chronic or serious medical conditions.
They could also give patients some time to absorb the news and come to terms with their situation.
During such occasions, some doctors drop obvious hints to patients that their consultation is over, or chat to colleagues about unrelated matters in front of patients. Such behaviour could be distressing to distraught patients.
In critical situations, full and frank disclosure of a patient's medical condition, together with accurate and consistent statements about the problem, goes a long way towards assuaging the fears of everyone involved.
Transparency and open communication are all that is required.
When faced with medical negligence or malpractice, most victims do little about it. They choose to brush the matter aside to avoid traumatising family members.
A complaints-resolution mechanism should be established by health-care providers.
It would go a long way towards easing stressful situations for patients and opening up communication channels.
Mrs Aaradhana Sadasivam (my paper reader)
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