Monday, August 4, 2014

Patient Dignity 10: Paternalism and Pretending to Care

I recently read a very disturbing article on titled, "Incorporate empathy in patient interactions."

It seems like a good idea one would think, until you read the article. The second sentence in the second paragraph states, "The greater the sense of trust, the more likely the patients will be compliant."

Empathy is used Machiavellianly to achieve patient compliance. That is paternalism at it's worst. That is no better than one person saying "I love you" to a partner just to get them to buy gifts. How could the empathy be genuine then?

This shows the worthlessness of the "patient's bill of rights" that all providers have. They are in fact worthless, they are NOT a binding contract. They just make the patient feel warm and fuzzy like they are actually participating in their own healthcare.

The "patient responsibilities" part, which always include "follow the physician's plan for treatment" are a direct contradiction to the "patient participation" part. The "patient responsibilities" only allow the physician to give the patient a "demerit" or justify firing them as a patient.

The beginning of the article only reenforces my point; do you think the insurance company is actually empathizing with people or just trying to get them to buy insurance?

If a physician reads this article and the next day tries to empathize with patients, don't you think they will see right through that. Physicians who actually care don't need to be told this. And there are many physicians who do actually care (and empathize) about their patients.

How would physicians feel about an article that tells patients to pretend to follow their physician's treatment plan, then return and say it is not working. Suggest a hybrid plan of the physician's plan and yours. The physician may suggest staying on the course of treatment or change it to something different. You may have to do this a couple times. Once he concedes to the hybrid plan, report that you feel better (but not enough), but you want to try altering the course of treatment.

Forgive me for saying this, but when is healthcare going to figure out that it is about the view of the patient?


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