Monday, March 28, 2011

There is always more than one patient

I had just finished a case and went to talk to the family. When I got back, one of the residents asked what took so long. I paused and then thought a bit and tried to explain. I told him that the person that went to the recovery room was not the only patient. While we were operating and dictating, someone is sitting in the waiting room worrying. There the clock seems to stand still. They are worried about their loved one, worse, they are helpless to do anything. Every time the phone rings, they jump. When the surgery is over, they have to face the news of what was found and what happened. Is there cancer? Are they going to be OK? What happens next? The person that had the operation is still asleep. The family and friends have to face the news wide awake. They are your patients too. Time and answers to their questions are the medicine that they need. Surgery takes as long as it takes, so does meeting with the family and friends.

3 comments:

rnraquel said...

Thank you. I see surgeons who completely blow off the families. Then I see some who will go sit down with them in the waiting area and talk to them at length. I see the ones who will dig through a 5 inch thick chart to find the phone number of the parent or child across the country who is waiting for new of their loved one. I truly respect those who take the time to do some doctoring besides the surgery, and deal with those patients besides the one on the OR table.

SeaSpray said...

"The family and friends have to face the news wide awake. They are your patients too. Time and answers to their questions are the medicine that they need."

Specifically in reference to the surgical patient, "They are your patients too."

That is one of the sweetest ...most sensitive perspectives I have read in the med blogosphere. I am sure other docs must appreciate the importance of family/friends waiting and like RNraquel said and others also blow them off.

You sound like a gem Throckmorton.

I have worried about my family if I ever had to have the surgery I've been avoiding. That waiting room experience ..I imagine would be difficult. It would be my husband and 2 sons. I would sincerely hope that staff would be informative when possible and certainly that the doc would be as thoughtful as you.

Chrysalis Angel said...

Well said, Throckmorton.