My friend and I have decided we are going to write a book. She and I are both midwives and we are both parents to a large number of children. This is not going to be just any book. It is going to be a text book, directed towards medical students. It is going to primarily look at bedside manner and how to treat clients with respect. We think it will, not only be a best seller, we agree that in a few years time it will be a text that will be compulsory reading for med students, particularly future doctors who are thinking of practicing in paediatrics. It will be a text that is to be read first, before the "Westmead Children’s Hospital Paediatric Handbook".
I know, I can almost hear your eyes rolling out there. I know I go on and on about how bad the medical profession is up here but I am just going to have to get it off my chest again.
The first and most important thing for any doctor who thinks they are going to put their hands on any of my children (and this one is mostly for the ER doctors); Tell me your name! Introduce yourself. It’s not so hard…
"Hello, my name is….Peter Paediatrician, how are things?".
See? Easy, isn’t it?
Don’t come charging in, grunt in my general direction and then try to examine the baby. It just won’t happen. Call me strange but I would at least like the reference of a name when I am trusting you with my child.
Secondly, if I bring any of my children to a doctor it is generally because I feel they are unwell enough to need one. I don’t run off to the hospital or the paediatrician just because they have a sniffle. Don’t treat me like I am a paranoid woman, who has no idea. Hospital is not the most thrilling place in the universe and I most certainly would not be there if I had any other choice. The thought of sleeping in a Jason recliner for however many nights doesn’t really do it for me either so why you would think I, or any other parent, would race up to the hospital at the first sign of illness is beyond me.
Don’t belittle the parent’s concerns by making benign comments like…"oh she looks alright to me…" or…"why did you bring him up here, he looks like he is ok from where I am sitting". Statements like this are generally made before examining said child, so how can you make a judgement call like that? Also, it makes the parent second guess themselves and they often start to believe that they have over reacted. Before you make observations like that, why don’t you stop and listen to the parents. They know their children better than anyone. better than you, that’s for sure.
It’s the same with regular specialists (ie;paeds). If they turn up for appointments and the children are well (for the first time in months) please don’t make the parents feel as though they are supreme idiots by making sweeping statements like…" Oh, they are doing really well". How can you say that? You are not available to see them when they are sick but the distressed phone calls to your rooms should alert you that they are generally not well and this is a welcome break from the norm. The parents have worked really hard to get them better (without much help from you). How about a little support? How about some empathy for the ill health that the children have seen and the tough Winter the parents have endured? Would that be asking too much? Don’t blow it off like it’s nothing. That is so degrading.
As a general rule, it is a good idea to build some kind of rapport with the client. It’s good to have a basis of trust when you are going to be either touching the patient or the child of the parent. Don’t come across as some kind of over the top salesman and expect that the client/parents will trust you. They won’t. They will think that you are just trying to placate them, telling them what they want to hear. They will get the impression that you are two faced and dishonest. The clients/parents will start to doubt you.
An ER nurse said to me a few weeks ago that the worst thing about doctors these days was their lack of bedside manner.
What do you think? Is it important to you?
Our Paed says I am too fussy about doctors that my expectations are too high. Maybe I am. Are you happy to go to any old doctor or do you like to go to someone who is actually interested in looking after you in a holistic way?