On the day of discharge, however, the routine should be different. The doctor should pull up a chair and sit down. Then he or she should say, "I’ll sit here as long as it takes to answer your questions." The fact that the doctor has taken a seat tells the patient that the doctor has set aside that time for him only, and is not going to rush off to see someone else. If the doctor has prepared the patient properly, the visit will still take less than five minutes, but the patient will feel well served.
Explore This IssueAugust 2011
Any surgeon who states that he never has surgical complications is not being honest. Even the best surgeons have them. If the patient has been fully informed, that patient will accept the fact and do the best he can to endure the problem. The caring surgeon will say something like, "We discussed this possibility before surgery. I’m sorry the complication occurred and I will help you through this difficult situation."
The Art of Compassion
Following a surgical complication, instead of making rounds twice a day, the compassionate surgeon will do so four or more times. This lets the patient and family know the doctor is on top of the situation and is concerned about their well being. In difficult or unusual cases, the secure physician will suggest a second opinion before the patient or family asks for one.
So why is the art of medicine important? It establishes the time-honored physician-patient relationship. The patient will have respect for and confidence in his physician and will trust him. Patients will have a positive attitude going into surgery and accept a complication should one occur. Most of the time, they will not consider a malpractice suit because of a complication.
If the doctor-patient relationship is strong, patients will remain loyal to their physician and may even fight the insurance company in their doctor’s behalf. Not only that, but they will refer their friends and family members to their doctor. The most secure practice a physician can develop is one that is patient based. Even in today’s practice atmosphere, happy patients can build a solid practice for a caring and compassionate physician. ENT TODAY
Michael E. Glasscock, III, MD, has been a practicing otologist and neurotologist for over 30 years and is the past president of the American Otologic Society. He has published in excess of two hundred and fifty scientific articles in peer- reviewed journals and three textbooks during his career, and founded the American Journal of Otology.