are we missing the point? – Medical vs patient care

As society becomes more educated and technology advances, I think we’ve missed the original meaning of “patient care”.

This thought arose as I read “Shroud of a Nightingale” by P.D. James. The basis of patient care, was to make them feel better. While medical advancements have allowed more cures to be accessible, the element of “care” has been re-defined to what I perceive as incomprehensible. Coaxing isn’t a solution, but the desensitization towards pain today is a curious affair.

A patient is unwell. Let’s run ten over scans. It’ll include a bunch of blood tests, an MRI scan of the brain which you might not be able to do when you’re weak, CSF tests via a lumbar puncture and many others. Let’s go through everything that the textbook taught me to, because everyone that comes within the door is a “case” that can be encountered.

No, I am not medically-trained. Yes, I understand the importance of finding out the cause of a discomfort. Yet time and again, I see people close to me go through this routine only to receive an oddly sanguine response of “the tests are inconclusive”. But hey, doesn’t matter – more wouldn’t kill, so here’s a heap of antibiotics you can try to take to fix your undeterminable issue.

I wonder, sometimes, if it was all necessary. Could a better preliminary diagnosis have resulted in more accurate tests and hence a more effective treatment? That bunch of tests and medication – did it serve to build up or wear down the patient’s immunity? Does the patient’s mental health still matter? I’m not sure we realise that bland food, pain and agony doesn’t motivate anyone to get well. Gone are the days where nurses swallowed feeding tubes consciously, to learn what the patient would feel in the process. Everything is deemed “a simple procedure” and “minor discomfort” today. But – it is not JUST a procedure. Your equipment standards have increased; your emotional standards inversely proportionate.

Medical care is great; patient care isn’t. Here’s hoping that some day someone will look into it again.

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7 thoughts on “are we missing the point? – Medical vs patient care

  1. Unfortunately, I think most medical institutions have missed the point by being too busy, overworked and understaffed. We have just come off over two years of where a family member was in palliative care and much of the time it was us educating staff on how to deal with this particular type of patient – not that they didn’t care but alot of their methods are “by the book” and don’t take common sense into account as a sometimes better form of treatment than endless tests and medication. Like anything today, you seem to have to complain REALLY loudly for people to listen and to take into consideration that there is another way of dealing with things… sometimes they do stop and realize they are learning something new and carry it forward. This is all we can really hope and the reason for being vocal in the first place. Thanks for visiting btw and love your chess board header!

    • I know where you’re coming from but it upsets me sometimes; as much as we depend on various cases to improve medical care, we need to consider that patients are not experiments. BTW the chess board header is a preset by WordPress 🙂

      • It is upsetting and believe me, I’ve seen more than my share of ‘experiments’ over the last few years. I do think that patients and their families need to educate themselves on treatment and procedures and get angry and really proactive about it when necessary – doctors aren’t gods and we shouldn’t just be handing ourselves over to them to let them do what they want with us just because we can’t treat ourselves…. No one should be a guinea pig to advance the cause of science.

  2. I think that’s a great point about great medical great, but poor patient care. It seems the individual doesn’t matter anymore– and that’s coming from someone in the health care field. I don’t necessarily blame the doctors for this even though often times the responsibility lies with them. They are overworked, their time in higher demand than ever, and I think they just can’t keep up with all that is expected of them. In the end the system creates challenges too great for the individual (and very human) doctor which leads to very compromised individual care for the patient. I could go on and on about this on many levels, but we would be here for days!

    • Of course, I’m not saying it’s an easy job for them. However if they’ll give 5 minutes to think about the consequences of their “treatment” and share this knowledge with the patient or their family, things might just be better…

      • Though that may not be apparent in my comment, I 100% agree with you. In fact, I have a big beef with doctors (though I empathize with them on many levels) because in my new job as a weight loss coach often times I have to get doctor permission for their patients to participate in my weight loss program. It’s for the safety of the patient when they have certain medical conditions. I’m shocked and appalled that the majority of docs will not give me the time of day. I actually have to play the doctor card and say, “I’m Dr. __” to get through!! Then that pisses me off because I question why a doc is so much more special than your average joe that he/she is given that special consideration– blah, blah– all that elitism makes me sad. 🙂 It disgusts me that I am calling them on behalf of THEIR patient to help the patient find a way to achieve measurable improvements in their own health, and they can’t take 5 minutes of their time to do something that will help their patients get off of blood pressure meds, diabetes meds, cholestreol meds, etc… Instead they are too stubborn or insecure to think that someone might know something that they don’t know, and they’d prefer to keep their patients drugged and powerless to improve their lives. Oh boy… that’s the rant I was trying to avoid. 🙂 The system is so flawed. The patient care is so flawed, yet so much of it helps people and saves lives. The fact that you have to be a doctor to be important enough to get extra time from them is so uncool… something has to change, and then again I think this Dr. behavior is all a product of the system. Anyway… sorry for the rant. I’ve often thought about writing a blog post about this.

      • No problem! Thank you so much for sharing! I thought I was being stupid for complaining (a bit too often as some may say)… but I guess it’s an apparent problem! I wouldn’t disagree that medical care is very advanced these days and a lot can be done as a “solution”, but a “solution” doesn’t save them from emotional/physical pain … Doing 8 rounds of chemotherapy and 3 surgeries over a short span of years, but not having a real cure to it and soon the patient passes on… Is that really the only solution? Sorry, I’m just fired up 😦

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