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.