One profession where every millisecond matters is the medical profession. Doctors run against time, saving millions of lives. They can afford only little sleep, little socializing and leisure. Commitment to work and pressure from the organization force them to keep their apron on for almost 18 hours a day. Society should thank not only them, but also their spouses and children for letting them away from home. But what worries us is that many of these doctors are too much in a hurry, creating anxious and depressing moments for patients and their relatives.
Recently, I read an article about a bereaved wife who went through a torrid ordeal in a hospital. She was beside her ailing husband for several days. They were a well-educated couple with a fair social standing. Husband was hospitalized with a chest pain. The doctor visited their room just for a minute and never found time to interact with the patient’s wife. Enquiries and doubts from the wife and children got monosyllabic answers. The elderly husband, not fit enough for a surgery, was made to undergo a heart bypass. He suffered a heart attack and died even as the surgery was being performed. The woman believes that her husband would have lived on for many more years, if not for the negligence of a busy doctor.
When at least a smile can give a healing touch, some doctors portray themselves as staid, learned and restless, as if that symbolizes the genius of their rare breed. It is not a very pleasant experience to be in a hospital, either as a patient or as a visitor, even if the hospital is endowed with the most-modern ‘five star’ facilities nowadays. All patients and their relatives go through depressing moments because of the pain their loved ones going through, anxiety, financial strain, loneliness and helplessness. They obviously look for empathy, transparency, concern and gentleness from the hospital management, staff and doctors. But, in general, hospitals are perceived as establishments with the sole motive of making money through a concerted effort of various stakeholders – the management, doctors, and pharma, medical, diagnostic and insurance companies. Of course, hospitals do need money to provide quality service. But what upsets patients and their relatives is a sheer lack of transparency and communication on pros and cons of different options.
Doctors don’t have time to explain. Managements are keen to collect advances before even the patient is admitted. Other staff members are too ill-informed to guide patients or give suggestions. Social workers, counselors or relation experts are either non-existent or perform their roles superficially and mechanically. All these definitely affect the healing process.
It is timely and appropriate to train health providers, inculcate a change in their mindset and apprise them of the need for necessary social and communication skills and empathy in a hospital setting. Doctors should know that patients and their relatives put their trust only on them and not on the management, staff, diagnostic service providers or counselors. It is imperative that doctors spend more time with patients and their relatives. And give that much-needed human touch that is lacking most of the times now.