Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Blogpost 2: The Soul of a Doctor

Here is a link to my first blogpost, where I discuss the first two aspects of patient care (as discussed in the Soul of a Doctor), communication and empathy. https://bioethjpo.blogspot.com/2017/04/blogpost-1-soul-of-doctor.html

In response to Dr. Oliver’s comment, I would like to say that I too was disturbed when I heard about the medical student excited to see the surgery. On one hand, the medical student should have a lot more empathy for this patient and see how they would feel if they had to go through the pain. On the other hand, I can see why the student might be a little excited to see a procedure, as I too have experienced that when I shadow doctors who get to perform certain procedures. I think that student could have 100% handled the situation better and exhibited more sympathy for the patient. First and foremost, I think it is a doctor’s duty to care for the patient. Not to care about the procedure and science behind the diagnosis of the patient.

For my second blogpost, I am going to talk more about the last two aspects of patient care: easing suffering and loss and finding a better way. In the story, “Limitations” we are introduced to a patient that became disabled after a serious accident. Although he was not paralyzed, the pain that the accident caused was so bad he could not walk or drive. He was suing to compensate for his medical bills and for emotional damages, but he admitted to the doctor that not even a million dollars would make him feel better. The only thing that gave the patient any joy in life was his granddaughter. This made the doctor think about the repercussions of health care and that just because people were living longer, doesn’t mean they were living better. The doctor speaks on how it is their duty to take care of not only the physical health of their patients, but of their mental and emotional health as well. Another story within the easing suffering and loss category is “Imagine How You’d Feel”. This features a mother and father while they are fighting for their child’s life and, ultimately, how they grieved his death. The father acted aggressive and out of control and many of the medical students assumed he was drunk. The mother was more reserved and just wanted alone time with her son. I think this really illustrates how people grieve in different ways. Some people respond in anger, but others are more detached from the situation. The ethical question comes into this story when the mother wants to take a picture with her dead son while he was in her arms. Although the medical student was not comfortable with this, I think it is perfectly acceptable. I come from a family that this is relatively normal for. My mother took pictures at my grandmother and my aunt’s funeral and she keeps them on her phone. I know that it might be weird for other people, but I think that if a patient request a picture with her deceased son, you should not force your beliefs on them. If you are uncomfortable doing so, you could always ask around and see if someone else could take the picture for the patient.

The last aspect of patient care I am going to discuss is finding a better way. The first story is “A Murmur in the ICU” and this follows the medical students as they visit patients as a learning experience. At first the medical students are just interested in learning what they need to learn, but as they look around the room and see pictures of family, balloons, and teddy bears, they quickly realize that these people are just like them. It makes them think about how they would feel if there were a bunch of students crowding around, trying to find the heart murmur that is killing them. The attending physician noted how important it is to introduce yourself to the patient and talk to them, even if you think they cannot hear you. In the end, the medical student realized that as you get accustomed to the environment of the ICU, it just becomes a place where sick people are hooked up to machines. In “Rewiring”, we get a look into the mind of a physician and how it is rewired after practicing medicine. Every person you encounter becomes a potential patient. A homeless man becomes a “48 y.o. male with a history of smoking, emphysema, and dementia.” An elderly woman becomes a “85 y.o. female with history of congestive heart failure presenting with shortness of breath and bilateral edema.” I think that this mindset can both be good and bad. In one sense, this could be a good way of keeping your mind sharp and aware of your surroundings. In another sense, it could be a very pessimistic view on life in that you see what is wrong in everyone. I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this, as well as any other case I have mentioned.

Here are two videos discussing the importance of empathy in health care. The first is from the Cleveland Clinic and the second is a TedTalk by Paul Rosen.

Link to my two comments:



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