Last year I wrote about Empathy Part 1. See our Blog from August 2013. Fast forward almost a year later and I continue to be amazed by how often medical errors occur because the hospital systems just don’t get it. While we see advertisements that promise caring medical care, what is delivered is often far from what has been promised. A lack of empathy is often part of this disconnect.
So little time and emphasis has been placed on establishing a true connection between patient and doctor that most patients now expect to be rushed through appointments or given little time to ask questions before life or death decisions need to be made. When we are in a crisis mode we need as much caring and understanding as possible. As human beings, we are placed in a position of having to understand and digest what the doctor tells us and accept what the doctor says without any true opportunity to understand what are the options or the risks and benefits of the proposed care. That is a truly frightening concept and is enough to cause anyone to become anxious and worried.
When was the last time that a doctor actually sat down in the examining room or at bedside and truly attempted to find out how you were feeling or whether you had a series of questions about your medical care? If that has happened, you are truly blessed because most of the time, the answers are short and the visits are limited.
What I have learned throughout my practice of representing patients from newborn babies to the elderly, is that we all want to connect in a meaningful manner with our doctors and to be able to trust them in their care and look to them to help us with our medical issues. We want to trust our doctors and know that they are listening to us.
If you have a positive relationship with your doctor and you know that he/she will listen to your concerns and not minimize them or dismiss them, you are likely to experience a more positive outcome. Recent studies have shown that negative thoughts and interactions can lead to chronic diseases and reduce the ability to heal. I truly believe that medical errors frequently occur due to poor communication between healthcare providers. If doctors and nurses are more empathetic to their patients, the experience will be enhanced and the understanding of what truly needs to be done will be increased.
The true meaning of empathy is being emotionally connected or passionate. If you truly care about someone else and you take the time to listen to what they have to say, the communication is more meaningful and rewarding. The same concept applies between doctor and patient. Try it, it works!
With improved communication at all levels of healthcare, medical errors can and will be reduced. Next time you see your doctor or are admitted to the hospital think about whether the healthcare provider truly cares and is truly interested in you or whether they appear to be uninterested, distracted, hurried and/or distant. The more connected they are to you, the better you will feel in body and in mind. The more positive you are about your treatment the better are your chances of a good outcome and of avoiding injuries due to medical errors. Stay well and stay connected in an empathetic manner.