Friday, September 12, 2008

The 'too-empowered' Im-Patient

The interview with Elizabeth Cohen, columnist and medical correspondent for CNN went well. Elizabeth wanted to explore the risks of being "too-good-of-a-good-patient' and when and how this could compromise care. Most of the conversation centered around my personal vignette on the British Medical Journal article entitled "I am a good patient, believe it or not" published with two of my mentors. Here is the vignette:
The health professional who catheterised me after my recent appendectomy used the anaesthetic gel simply as lubricant, without waiting for the anaesthetic to take effect. Neither I nor my wife, who is also a doctor, openly questioned the neglect of this simple precaution, which converted an unpleasant procedure into an unnecessarily painful one. Why did we let that happen? Did we think that being passive and compliant made me a good patient? Or were we just too afraid to question the authority of our caregiver?
Revisiting the experience over and over to get clarification on the questions was painful but not as painful as the experience itself. There are advantages and disadvantages of being too-empowered and only through our own journeys we'll be able to find the right level of empowerment for each situation. Good luck... it changes all the time.

Books on Doctors as Patients and a few on the Doctor-Patient Relationship