On Being Human

Early in my career an elderly woman presented to establish care. When I discovered she was suffering from a urinary tract infection, I reviewed all her treatment options from natural remedies to antibiotics. When I stopped talking, she looked straight at me and said, “What’s the matter, Honey? Don’t you know what you are doing?”

The truth is I do not always know what I am doing. In that case I did, but I realized that patients back in the day preferred a patriarchal, just-take-this-pill approach to medicine. Today patients want to discuss their options.

Now, I believe, people want a real doctor.


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9 comments on “On Being Human
  1. Leslie Wallace says:

    nice… LOVE the bloopers 🙂 How cute are you?!?! The best faces…
    Cheers! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Karina Vasilevska says:

    I do think that being perceived as more human (and for example apologizing) would help A LOT and it would reduce legal problems (in Latvia where I live legal problems are nowhere as big as in the US anyways, but there is always this rumbling and silent discontent). The problem is that Western Doctors are educated to be as distant as possible for supposedly professional reasons (and probably to save some heart-break), this goes along with not looking at a human-being holistically, only as a patient with the particular condition, but no feelings or brain. But I am sure some patients expect that, just as you have described. And appologizing is hard… even when you are not dealing with life/death situations… or especially then …. and when you are afraid to be sued.

  3. jill says:

    Always admit mistakes and move on. Patients need doctors to be human and it’s better admitting than screwing up and not admitting!!!!

    xoxoxo

    • Ayala and Richard says:

      Oh yes, the R & I also agree that mistakes had oughta be owned up to, and immediately. To avoid lawsuits, however, we feel that in some instances more than an apology might be in order– some sort of Amends offered. Maybe financial. Maybe the doctor comes over and helps out around the house— something appropriate to the depth and scope of the error.
      Huggs, dear! Carry on the good work!

  4. Debbie says:

    I have a doctor that emphasizes the human element. She flat out will tell you that she’ll do her best and that medicine is definitely not an exact science and that we are doing this together. I feel so lucky to have someone taking care of me that acts human and that shows she actually cares. That is especially true when I see what some friends are going through w/ doctors that play the defensive medicine game to the pint of ordering MRI’s (repeatedly) for a patient who is having migraines and has had them for years and forcing that same patient to go to the ER to ensure they are worked up to be totally sure it is not a neuro issue vs just giving the medication that worked before and probably will again. It is so sad to see how afraid and distant some doctors feel they need to be and so wonderful that there are a handful of doctors willing to show their humanity and to really BE with patients through good and bad situations and outcomes. Be human, it shows you care. This does include admitting when something doesn’t work out well and if it is something that was within your ability to control for, admitting you messed up and apologizing. Most patients will understand the trust you are placing in them by sharing such info and will return this “gift” too.

  5. Mary Wible says:

    Patients would like for them to admite when they are wrong. Dr. are human as well and it is alright

  6. Sherri Brown says:

    I think dr’s should admit their mistakes- acknowledge their humanness to patients/clients. Creates a relationship where people are actively co-creating their health with the doctors, not leaving it all up to someone else. Humbleness is not practiced enough in our culture, so anyone who is willing to act in a such a manner should

  7. Lisa Oxman says:

    Yes indeed there is more than just a chance it might work out.
    Chances are it will work out if we ask for it to. Thank you for sitting with me with such compassion, humor and grace. This is the future of medicine where simple acts of love and kindness perpetuate health and well-being.
    Big Hugs…..

  8. But with the rising medical cost, lacking a medical health
    insurance is unthinkable. Wouldn’t it be great if
    Obama and his awesome committees would read then work
    on educating the general public to self
    responsibility for medical. So why not jump around the bandwagon and hand over your lifetime to modern medicine.

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