Thursday, October 17, 2013

The patient is always right

"As we have no immediate experience of what other men feel, we can form no idea of the manner in which they are affected, but by conceiving what we ourselves should feel in the like situation." 

-  Adam Smith 

During my 9 years of being a nurse I have frequently heard the statement "the patient is always right." Now thinking about that it brings me back to when I originally hurt my back about 3 1/2 months ago and my mom recommended I watch the movie the doctor. This was a doctor with really no compassion to his patients and for sure did not treat everybody as individuals until his life changed. He got sick and gained a whole new perspective on things. In the end he was training his new doctors by having them experience what it is like to be a patient themselves. Not a bad idea if I say so myself but not sure this type of training would be accepted in nursing schools and such.

The tricky question is how do you get the provider to put themselves in your shoes and is that even possible when they have never been there. Maybe that is why the patient always being right is really such a big deal. If you have never been where someone is at it is really impossible to put yourself in their shoes. If you have never had a 10/10 pain you can't even begin to imagine what it would be like and a 10/10 could be completely different from one person to the next. What they say is what it is. Why is this so hard? Because of course nobody wants to admit that someone else could be right. I mean a doctor goes to school for a long time so he can have the answers. So how in the world could the patient know anything at all.

Well the truth is its because not everything is visible or obvious. Not everything can be seen on an x ray or even found a diagnosis for. The patient is the one that knows something is wrong and its the provider who is there to investigate. And believe me figuring out the human body is a definite investigation. During my experiences being a patient has brought me to the conclusion that there needs to be a manual on how to be a patient. To be honest with you describing pain and what you are going through is one of the hardest things to do. Sometimes you just know that you are hurting and something is wrong.

Now are there instances where the provider knows more then the patient? Of course. They have the knowledge and it is up to them to make sure the patient understands. But also up to them to listen and be open to what they may not know. It is really kinda a teamwork sort of thing. Its not about being right or wrong. Its about working together to find the answer and in the end helping the patient.

"The hearing that is only in the ears is one thing.
The hearing of the understanding is another.
But the hearing of the spirit is not limited to any one faculty,
    to the ear, or to the mind.

Hence it demands the emptiness of all the faculties.
And when the faculties are empty, then the whole being listens.
There is then a direct grasp of what is right there before you that can never  be heard with the ear or understood with the mind."

-  Chuang-Tzu

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