A Chance to Vent
Congratulations on your new format of Hopkins Medicine magazine. You have created a cross between The Economist and People magazine—and that is meant to be a compliment.
I’m writing because I’ve been entertained by a number of events occurring in the medical world lately. Several months ago, I was sitting with my friend, a retired orthopaedist, at the Johns Hopkins Medical and Surgical Association meeting. A speaker announced that he was excited, because Johns Hopkins had received a grant of $1 million to teach med students how to talk to patients. We almost fell off our chairs. They need a special grant to teach and do the obvious—some of which the students should have learned in childhood?
Then I read the letter [Spring/Summer] about “Put to the Test” [which appeared in the Winter 2014 issue], and I agree with the letter writer. Increasingly, I see patients who have had multiple tests, the results of which would not change much. Perhaps the docs ordering the tests were the same ones who didn’t know how to talk to their patients and get a history?
Then I read your piece on “Bedside Manners” [Spring/Summer, p. 6], and again I was entertained but not surprised. Having been in practice for some time—and not spending much time entering excess data into computers—I can’t imagine practicing without welcoming patients and introducing myself, shaking hands, and thanking them for coming. And I don’t let them leave without asking if they have any questions.
While it is difficult and requires talented staff, we usually do stay on time and thank patients for being on time—if they are. You might add to the list: the doctor’s obligation to respect the patient’s time. The major complaint I hear from patients about other doctors is long waiting times.
Again, much of this behavior should have been learned in childhood.
Thanks for letting me share my observations—and for your editing a fine magazine.