#HAWMC Day 27.
Living with an illness, you are more likely to face people who don’t understand your daily struggles. Sometimes, these people can be inconsiderate and hurtful. Have you ever wanted to tell them how you really feel, but didn’t feel like you were able to? Now is your chance! Write an open letter to the people who have hurt you. What would you say to them? What lessons would you like them to learn?
Although I’ve had my share of health problems, I’ve been well! But most of the #HAWMC community as I’ve learned in the last few weeks are brave people coping with chronic illness. I wait with bated breath to see how many open letters in #HAWMC will be addressed to doctors.
Last month, I read Jennifer Chevinsky’s open letter from a medical student to her patients – Dear patient: Apologies from your medical student.
I am sorry that you are in the hospital.
I am sorry that I wake you up so early.
I am sorry that I ask you so many questions.
I am sorry your privacy is limited here.
I am sorry that I don’t know all of the answers.
Except for the part about waking the patient up early (I don’t make early morning rounds now as an attending physician), I find that what a medical student might apologize for is still true for doctors who have been in practice for years like me.
The blogging prompt today also reminded me of Morgan Gleason when she said I am a patient and I need to be heard.
Melinda Seed blogs for twicediabetes.com with Kate Gilbert, where the tagline is Delving into what doctors won’t tell you. Check out the blog’s series Dear Doctors.
005Dear Doctors, one and all,
You don’t get to choose what I’m worried about. If I ask a question, please don’t respond with a “you don’t need to worry about that now”, either direct or inferred. Add “your pretty little head” and it would be so rude it would cross over to funny. But it’s not funny, it’s scary. Please give me the information I asked for, and if you can’t, say you can’t.
Thank you, Kate
Dear Doctors, the hospital ones,
Who are you? A simple description of your role in my treatment would be nice. A name would be polite. I don’t want your life story but before you poke, prod, jab, examine and get intimate with me in your special ways, a few words of introduction?
Carolyn Thomas blogs at myheartsisters.org. She talks about why patients don’t take their medication (referencing an essay in the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Lisa Rosenbaum) in this post “I’m not just a pill person” – and other annoying excuses. Because of the work I do in health informatics, I smiled when I saw what she had written –
NOTE TO TECH DEVELOPERS: before you get too excited, the solution to non-compliance is NOT another of your beeping pillboxes, digital timers or phone app reminders!
I wrote a post on #IWishMyPatient here, an initiative to foster context, understanding and empathy between doctors and patients (#IWishMyDoc). Here’s what Annette had to say –
#Iwishmydoctor would talk to me about goals of treatment instead of assuming he knows #lcsm
— Annette McKinnon (@anetto) February 13, 2015
I always tell people that Twitter is my personal learning network. Sure I learn about academic stuff, but I’ve also learned from patients and patient advocates on Twitter. All the examples I shared in this post can be traced back to my Twitter feed.
Thanks Dr. Tan for including my “I’m Just Not a Pill Person!” post on this impressive list! I just love Kate Gilbert’s #006 advice to hospital docs: “….before you poke, prod, jab, examine and get intimate with me in your special ways, a few words of introduction?” Reminds me of the brilliant (and viral) #HelloMyNameIs campaign launched in the U.K. (and now worldwide) by another Kate, physician-turned-terminal-cancer-patient Kate Granger asking doctors for the simple common courtesy of introducing themselves to patients.
I too wrote an “open letter” to hospital employees six years ago after a particularly traumatic treadmill stress echocardiogram appointment (these tests are not normally at all “traumatic” – so you can imagine it would take quite a lot to send out this letter!): http://myheartsisters.org/2009/07/10/open-letter/
I’m happy to report that I later learned copies of “Carolyn’s Top 10 Tips on How To Treat Your Patient” within this open letter ended up printed and posted up on staff bulletin boards in a number of hospital departments since then! 🙂
Thanks for sharing your open letter Carolyn! I also followed Kate Granger’s story on Twitter. I love how social media makes our interaction possible. Warm regards.