Professionalism according to webster’s dictionary -“the skill, good judgment, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well”.
This afternoon we discussed whether it is professional behavior to reflect compassion, empathy, etc. using body language. In the right setting i think it is not only appropriate, but expected that a physician join a patient down the emotional journey of illness. This does not mean a physician is expected to cry every time a patient’s family is grieving, but it should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness. We sought this profession (I hope) because we enjoy being caretakers, and sharing in the joys/horrors of the human experience. Patients seek us because they want a person to help and guide them. In the right setting, letting your feeling get the best of you may be just what a grieving family member needs.
After hearing about the LB story, it brought back numerous experiences with similar breaches in communication. One potential remedy which was not discussed today was the importance of a read back. Applying it to today’s discussions…what if a formal read back from an attending was expected by the culture of that hospital community?….
Attending: So you’re telling me this 15 year old patient is tachycardic, has a rigid abdomen, and has new onset severe abdominal pain, and you attributed some of his abnormal vital signs to blood pressure cuff size??
I’m sure that after repeating those words out loud, the story would’ve had a different ending.