MEDICAL ANECDOTAL REPORT
Index Title: SARANAY’S MAR [15-07]
MAR’s Title: The First Encounter: Establishing Rapport while Gaining Respect
Date of Medical Observation: August 2015
Tag: When a physician seeks authority and rapport to patients
Category: Professional-Ethical/ Reinforcement
I, along with my medical clerks, walked to Room 410 to find two pair of eager eyes awaiting us. One set belonged to a child aged seven, oversized, pale skinned. His eyes were hazel brown, big and inviting. Another set belonged to a middle-aged woman wrought with sadness but brightened up as we approached their bed. Clearly, I interrupted a conversation between them but they gave us respect and gift of silence. The woman sat up and greeted us as we pleasantly introduced ourselves. “Good morning ma’am, I’m Dra. Ranay, surgeon, and these are my fellow young doctors.”
This is the usual event that we encounter when we are about to attend to our patients but, to my dismay, this was not the case. As I entered this same room, two people had a conversation that only ended when the phone rang. I thought it would be my moment to interrupt, but the lady then glanced at me and answered the phone. I insisted on introducing myself to impose a sense of authority. However, no response came. I then confided to the child wanting to extract some history out of this innocent looking young man but the look in his eyes answered me that he had nothing to say and looked back to his mother as if wanting to seek help. I stood there for minutes hoping that the call would end.
Finally, my moment came. It was as if a bell rang in my ears, when I heard the words “Okay, bye”. I was a bit irritated but I came to my senses and had composed myself as I introduced myself the second time.
Physical, Psychosocial, Professional/Ethical) / (Discovery, Stimulus, Reinforcement)
In the short time I have stayed in this hospital, this was the first time that I have encountered such an event. Now, I have even started to question myself. Am I not authoritative enough to be recognized and given attention?
Like many of us, I know each one has a story to tell about how they have been disrespected by patients or relatives of the patient. How you dealt with it, I would like to know.
In my case, I’d like to think that perhaps she thought that I was a clerk or an intern. But no matter who I am, it is an outright disrespect to earn such demeanor from a relative of a patient and it made me somehow irritated.
A few bouts of deep breathing, and then I realized that as a doctor we should never make an assumption that the patient immediately knows who we are. Also, prior to reacting, though it may seem difficult, we might consider putting our feet in the shoes of the relative/patient and allow the benefit of the doubt that maybe he/she is attending to an urgent call from another relative worrying about the patient’s condition.
Nevertheless, even in the midst of the scenario that a relative or even the patient would be disrespectful to us, we still need to remind ourselves of who we are and what our purpose is. And that no matter how people may treat us, we need to think first before we react or let any word come out of our mouth. After all, an impression of a bad attitude is more difficult to erase/undo.
Lastly, the lesson I have learned is, one should show respect in order to gain respect from others.
ROJoson’s Notes (16dec30):
Doctors should not assume that they should be respected all the time. In what seems to be a disrespectful act from a patient, counter with a respectful response. Give the patient the benefit of the doubt and understanding first. Do not rush to give admonishing comments. If need to make comments, do it with professionalism and tact.