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Thread: Tales of bedside manner

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
    Feb 2004
    on my 15 minute break

    Tales of bedside manner

    Has anyone else encountered doctors that while undoubtedly knowlegeable about medicine, well, sucked at dealing with human beings? I remember before my mother's death we talked with an oncologist who acted rather callous. When her cancer took a turn for the worse we asked him what treatment options remained and he answered "realistically at this point her options are to spend a lot of money on expensive treatments that probably won't work or just die without having to go through all the hassle." I understood at the time what he said was probably true, but I'm not sure characterizing her treatment options as a 'hassle' with the whole family gathered around was necessarily the most sensitive choice of words.

    I happen to like our primary care physician alot because he is an irreverrant guy with a puckish sense of humor. He tells me during my annual physical yesterday "congratulations, you're now officially overweight." He knows me well enough to know I'll take it as a semi-joke, but I'm sure if he said that to most patients they would be aghast with horror. yesterday we talked for a while about our families and when it was time for for the prostate exam he says "hmm let's see I've establish rapport with the patient and have probably earned his trust... oh yeah, now it's time to tell the patient what they have to look forward to next in the exam." He puts on the rubber gloves and says "assume the position" Not everyone would appreciate that either.

    How about you, does your family doctor have a decent bedside manner? Have you ever encountered doctors who acted like there's some other place they'd rather be? How does your primary care physician handle medical advice - does he or she hector you about your lifestyle or ever try scare tactics? (insert youtube link for the song "Cigarettes, Whiskey, and Wild Wild Women")

    Personally, a doctor's gender has never really been an issue with me, but Mrs. Maister for example frequently gets exasperated with her male ob/gyn whenever he speaks to the issue of cramping or other female problems ("what the hell does HE know about how cramping feels?....."). Do you care about your doctor's gender if s/he is addressing/treating an opposite gendered medical issue? I understand this is a HUGE issue in many Muslim countries and elaborate screens have to be set up shielding the doctor's views of various anatomical regions.
    Last edited by Maister; 30 Nov 2010 at 10:07 AM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
    Dec 2008
    the delta
    From my own surgical experiences and from stories my mother (a nurse) and sister (a doctor) have told me, usually Family Practice and Pediatricians are more friendly, and willing to chat with the patients and their families. Also, doctors who spend most of their time in check-up rooms with patients tend to have a friendlier demeanor.
    Surgeons often see the patient as the task the need to accomplish at that time and if they are successful that's all that matters. Going into medical school, I would think personality differences start to come out as students choose their specialties. It seems like business school - the people who are good with people will become salesmen and the ones who are bad with people become accountants.

    I had a surgery where one of the pre-op checks involved a finger and an area I usually keep hidden. After the doctor was finished I joked that it's customary to buy dinner before performing such acts. He didn't even crack a smile. I told that story to my family practice doctor and she said "Yeah, he should have paid you for the experience!" I think that story tells a lot about personality differences.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  3. #3
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Jan 2005
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Quote Originally posted by stroskey
    Going into medical school, I would think personality differences start to come out as students choose their specialties.
    Unfortunately, it is more like how much money do you want to make, and what is the lifestyle like after residency. I can tell you there are few people that really LOVE feet. It just happens that dermotology makes a TON of money, and has amazing hours. Which is why it is so difficult to get into. Same reason we are short of primary care doctors. Low pay and long hours. They can close up shop for holidays, but they don't get paid. Until the student debt ratio to income problem is solved, many smart people in this country will go into medicine for the money and lifestyle, not because of a love of one specialty.


    Honestly, I would much rather have a doctor that knows what they are doing than one that is overly nice. The doctor patient relationship is already awkward, I don't really need a friend, I need someone to help me.

    I don't think we should expect doctors to be friendly and kind in the Emergency Room or on the operating table. They are trying to do their job and are probably thinking that we are going to sue them anyways. I have a tough time trying to be someones friend when I fear they may take my friendliness and shove it at me later in a court room.

    With that said, if doctors were all friends with their patients maybe there would be a more reasonable dialog when it comes to lawsuits later. Who knows...
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
    May 2004
    Grand Rapids, Michigan (Detroit ex-pat since 2004)
    A physician of my acquaintance takes mobile calls in the OR. While operating. From Caller ID-ed folks who do not have emergencies.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Quote Originally posted by Veloise View post
    A physician of my acquaintance takes mobile calls in the OR. While operating. From Caller ID-ed folks who do not have emergencies.
    I certainly hope he is on your side of the State, and not on your old side of the State!

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