Laughing is not always good medicine

Today on rounds, we had a new patient with diarrhea. As we were speaking with the mother, it became apparent that she was not familiar with diarrheal diseases. She was just like any new, scared mother and was doing her best.

However, the medical students and one resident doctor thought otherwise. They started laughing at her ignorance and aggressively challenged her about one of her child’s symptoms. The mother was humiliated and stopped talking.

I remained silent until they finished talking about the case. As we began moving to the next bed, I stopped rounds and asked everyone to meet me at the nurses’ station. I was fuming.

We all piled into the small room, closed the door and each person nervously stared at the ground. I was silent for 2-3 minutes and tried to calm down. Then I said “Each of you just provided horrendous care to that patient and her mother. If you ever display that sort of unprofessional behavior again, I will send you all home.”

I don’t know why I threatened to send them home. I would be stuck at the hospital doing the work for eight people. It was the only thing I could think of at the time.

The remainder of rounds lacked the typical jovial atmosphere, but we were efficient and provided quality care.

We then returned and apologized to the mother of our patient.

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2 Responses to “Laughing is not always good medicine”

  1. Francisco Acosta Says:

    Sometimes the sterness goes a long way!

  2. mercy monroy Says:

    Well done! As a parent who has experienced that humiliation it is important to understand that if you want to be an effective doctor you have to build trust with your patients and their parents. when this happened to me I was fuming and filed a complaint and demanded that reprimand be given.

    Parents whether rich or poor see their doctor like if they were their priest and if their is no trust between patient and doctor you won’t get the respect or cooperation needed to resolve or find a diagnosis.

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