Doctors are sitting ducks for revenge, which can be in many forms. It is necessary not to make unnecessary comments during discussions with patients and relatives. A sweet talk or even stoic silence is still better than making irrelevant and insensitive comments. Sometimes, in emergencies doctors are too busy, feeling harassed, and in heat of moment , they utter some words. But later, no one will take into account the amount of distress in emergency situations. Irrespective of the number of patients, try to refrain from uttering the words, which are non- professional. But few words said in disgust will be remembered by patient and interpreted by courts in retrospective analysis can be held against the doctors..
Supreme court granted an additional Rs 10 lakh in compensation to a woman from hills in medical negligence case on finding about the insensitive comment made by doctor at hospital in Shimla
Few points, which should be followed are as under to save themselves from future harassment. There can be many more.
- Do not have a word match with patient or attendants.
- If attendant are shouting or angry, restrain your mind and do not answer to give back in same words. Better to be silent.
- Try to avoid being in that situation, specially if you are being irritated and some thing goes out of your mouth.
- If the situation is arising because diagnosis is not clear or not able to treat, try to refer the patient, without making comments.
- Try to have cool and calm communication and make a record of it.
- Communication should be regarding only professional matters. Rest all irrelevant communication to be avoided.
- Unreasonable and unrealistic demands are not uncommon . Just tell calmly about the same. Do not make angry or sarcastic comments.
But sometimes when during ongoing medico legal lawsuits, a feeling of revenge prevails or as guided by lawyers, such uttered words may cause unnecessary problems.
“Documenting the communication”
- examine, investigate, diagnosis , treat correctly and communicate
- Make a note of plan of treatment and prognosis, and communicate to patient or attendants.
- Sign yourself and ask the patient or nearest relative to sign.
- It is not uncommon that relative will refuse to sign. In that case just write a note and mention that attendant refuses to sign.
- It is also a common issue that after listening to everything, relative will say that he does not understand or will ask his uncle or aunt. These are difficult moments and commonly happen. Just make a note of everything. Besides it wastes crucial time.
- Can use camera for communication in difficult cases.
- Never rely on verbal communication. It has little value. Commonly people refuse to admit verbal communication, and will say that they were not told anything.
As time for everything is limited in life, be it treatment, communication, consent or documentation. . “Talk less and write more”. You will be judged by documents after many years.
Doctors need to train themselves to restrain and avoid irrelevant comments, to save themselves.