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Patient’s Faith

Patient’s Faith

The central point of any healing is the faith that the patient has for the doctor. Similarly the doctor has to have faith in the patient that he will respectfully follow his advice and pay his dues. Any arrogance, disrespect or browbeating  or cheating by the patient or his relatives will be undoing the best that a doctor can offer. This faith implies that the patient believes that the best is being done to heal the disease he is suffering from. When the patient is content about this, he is prepared to wait for the disease to improve. He accepts whatever hurdles or delays that may occur during the process of recovery. The reassuring words from the physician strengthen his faith. Faith is essential for healing to take place regardless of the kind of treatment that is given. Without faith the mind is active and restless. This has repercussions on the immune system. Where there is faith, the feeling is positive and this helps the body’s built-in mechanisms of healing. Hi-tech facilities may attract the patient but may not strengthen the inner feeling of faith; thus such facilities need not always mean better health outcome. It is unnecessary as well as impossible to understand every mechanism underlying “nature’. A medical student has to learn the basics of clinical examination, as well as learn the art of dealing with the patient and his concerns. Post-graduate learning in medicine should concentrate on the student’s ability to manage various disease conditions and lead to perfection of clinical acumen, besides the art of developing mutual faith.  Presently modern medicine does not emphasize or recognize the role of faith and the reality of mind-body-spirit medicine. Relying purely on the bio-medical aspects has led to a mechanical approach to diseases. There is uncertainty, in the face of rapid scientific advances, on how medicine is to be taught and how budding doctors are to be evaluated.    One reason for the world wide rise in health care costs is an approach to health care that is almost exclusively based on investigations, while matters concerning health and health care become greatly simplified if they are based on history taking and clinical examination. The widespread loss of faith due to unethical practices indulged in by a few doctors is proving an obstacle to healthcare delivery. Patients start believing that doctors are mercenary, and that all they want to do is to make money. What they fail to realize is that doctors start adopting these practices as defensive tactics, in order to prevent patients from taking undue advantage of their trust. Patients who have had a bad experience with a doctor, are happy to post about this on social media. In all fairness, when they have a good experience with a doctor, then why should they not write about this as well? Recently, there was a news item in national dailies regarding a survey among patients which concluded that 25-30 percent of them were unhappy or dissatisfied even with the premier medical institutions in the country. Presuming, that there is some truth in these reports then it a cause for concern.

Taking the doctor for a ride

A few patients take their doctors for a ride by taking advantage of their goodness and ethics. Thus, they may refuse to pay them their consultation fees; or they bargain for a discount after the treatment is over; or they expect the doctor to be on call 24/7, because they have paid his consultation, regardless of the convenience of the doctor. This is why doctors start adopting business practices which seem to be patient unfriendly, but which are done in order to protect themselves. Sadly, the bad behavior of one patient changes the entire outlook of the doctor, and he starts treating all his patients as being potentially crooked. Some patients use technical terms instead of narrating their symptoms in detail. Several others indulge in self-investigation and self prescription before going to the doctor or even after consulting him.  Many will insist for prescription of a particular medicine, tests or surgery, even when it is not required.

No doubt many patients are over demanding or over expect from medical people. Such patients are usually not satisfied with any doctor/ hospitals whether, government, private, corporate, service or even charity Hospitals. What could be the cause of this so widespread dissatisfaction or unhappiness? It is understood that patients or their attendants are in anxiety and stressed due to multifarious problems and any deficiency in communication skills may provoke them to over-react and feel unhappy. My grandfather used to donate regularly to one hospital in our town. Once, an employee of that hospital shouted on him for some petty thing. He felt so hurt that he wrote to the management of that hospital, to remove his name from the list of donors. Do patients have lowered threshold for unhappiness, when they are playing the role of a dependent in life? Is it poor soft skills, health sermons, hastiness on part of doctors, loose comments, straight face of receptionist, poor guidance, long queues for sample collection, improper waiting areas, conflicting advice from two specialists, deriding patients on eating or other habits, perception of low respect being shown to elders , rich persons or high officials etc. I personally feel that there is something more to it which leads to the unhappiness of patients. it is something which can be felt, perceived or experienced when you are a patient. Often impoliteness even unknowingly that creeps into the doctor’s words portrays him as a hero or villain irrespective of his professional knowledge.Is it empathy or sympathy or care or the outcome of treatment, which is important?


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