Monday, September 10, 2007

Consciousness Raising Exercise #15

A physician who treats patients must be a citizen of the world in which s/he lives. To do so, s/he must be able to communicate with patients and share a physician's thoughts with others through dictated and written reports.
Our society has undergone dramatic changes in the past quarter century. So have the sociological conditions and medicolegal considerations for physicians and their patients.

Form a discussion group with several other medical students to analyze the following patients' social, psychological, linguistic, and medical challenges upon entering the Emergency Room at your hospital:

  • A Korean tourist who speaks no English.
  • A businessman who leads a frequent flyer lifestyle.
  • A recovering alcoholic.
  • An autistic teenager.
  • A single mother of three children.
  • An atheist.
  • A 12-year-old gang member who has just killed two people.
  • A vegetarian with a strong interest in homeopathic therapies.
  • A hearing-impaired patient who communicates in American Sign Language.
  • A severely battered woman.
  • A single, elderly patient demonstrating early signs of Alzheimer's disease.
  • A confused patient who is high on Ecstasy.
  • An out-of-the-closet gay man with a compromised immune system.
  • A veteran with post-traumatic stress syndrome.
  • A homeless family sleeping in a shelter.

  • In analyzing each patient's challenges, ask the following questions:

  • How well am I equipped to communicate with this patient?
  • How easily can this patient communicate with me?
  • What would this patient's interaction with hospital personnel have been like 25 years ago?
  • What parts of the hospital experience have become more sensitive to this patient's needs?
  • What can be done (from an institutional, professional and/or personal standpoint) to render more compassionate care to this patient?
  • What special words would I need to use to accurately describe this patient while dictating a medical report?

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