Computers might be able to take over some of what a doctor does, but they sure can’t do this.
Last week, Reddit user mcharb13 posted a photo of a handwritten note from a doctor that he said has changed his life. It’s a condolence note that was sent to his father by an emergency room physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital who had treated his mother, he told the Huffington Post. His mother had breast cancer and died several hours after being taken to the ER.
In the note, the doctor explains that this is the first such note she’s written in 20 years of ER work (the name of the doctor was omitted from the photo, but Redditors seemed to think it was a female, based on the handwriting.)
“Our encounters are typically hurried and do not always allow for more personal interaction,” she wrote. “However, in your case, I felt a special connection to your wife, who was so engaging and cheerful in spite of her illness and trouble breathing.”
The note struck a chord with at least 2.1 million people and prompted more than 1,300 of them to leave comments. Many of the comments have come from people who have also lost parents, and many have come from physicians as well.
They don’t train us how to deal with the human element of our job very well. Most react by developing a deep callus over their hearts. Some of us are down-right evil in how jaded we’ve become. I’m sure other healthcare workers can testify. So, it is a true testament to your parents relationship for this to pierce beneath that callus. Whatever they were doing, apparently, they were doing it right. It sounds like you have a couple of great parents. Copy them.
I pray to God that when I make it as a trauma surgeon, I do not become desensitized to the sometimes inevitable loss of life of my fellow man or woman, nor desensitized to the joy of saving or helping to improve the quality of life of my patients.
It’s a reminder that, even in the digital age, bedside manner and compassion go a long way.
[Photo from Reddit user mcharb13]
I had an ER doctor save my life, and I couldn't be more thankful for how he helped me and my husband in the crazy hours between admission and surgery.
Personally, when it comes to ER situations, I would prefer having a doctor that doesn't care until after the fact. I would make no attempt to connect with the doctor until I was already helped. I'd prefer the doctor to be focused on thinking clearly and logically rather than worrying and being more stressed than the ER job must already be by becoming attached.
Funny couldnt get my doctors to listen to anything for 13 years they ignored me and treated me for Fibromyalgia all the while i had lyme disease had to treat it myself with Collodial silver. After 13 years of being deadly sick i feel great today. I dont trust a one of them anymore. It is refreshing at least one listened to someone.
I met one ER doctor that I would give anything if he was a family doctor & I even ask him if he had an office because I would love to have him for my family doctor. He had so much compassion for his patients. Unfortunately he was only ER. He was so good with his patients. Much appreciation for him because he was exceptionally good with my father when he broke his hip. Wish all his doctors after he left the ER would have been like him.
It is very rare that you find a doctor so caring. Most are in it for the money & don't really care. I have had several surgeries & only one doctor has really cared. It is good to read this & know there are some out there that care about their patients. This was an uplifting story, respect for that doctor.
Just have to wonder how many more of these you'll see after the full implementation of Obamacare.I would hope not many.
What an amazing story. Can identify with this doctor. Am a retired nurse, and experienced this too. The bottom line was efficiency, cost containment NO overtime.
No listening to patients, no holding their hand when they were fearful and alone, just rushing from one crisis to the next in a horribly busy ICU for 20 years. Went to long term care. . .and after4 years of going home emotionally broken daily, due to inadequate staffing, poor care due to same and letting my patients without family die alone again due to short staffing, left to do home health. The paperwork was horrific, was able to spend more time with my patients but at the sacrifice of my family time, finishing paperwork at home. Fixable? Oh yes, but no company will run any facility without big profits. The patients suffer, the staff burns out, big profits are made. Looking back, my career was rewarding because I broke rules, clocked out then finished paperwork. Thousands of hours of volunteer time, that made a difference to some of my patients. Would I do it again? Of course, we shouldn't be paid for kindnesses.
As a physician and as someone who trains physicians, I can tell you that the human connection is essential to our effectiveness. It is something that is difficult to select for through the medical school selection process, but it becomes evident in training and in practice.
I've heard of the myth of the physician who is a complete jerk but make up for it with their brilliant clinical or surgical skills.I can tell you that those types of physicians survive in spite of their personality and there are other physicians who are just as technically brilliant but are more successful because they can relate to their patients, their colleagues, and their staff. I love my patients, and I love my students who show love for their patients.
I think that for every caring physician there is probably one that is either desensitized to the human aspect of medicine and those that view their patients as a variable in an experiment that could supply with the chance of notariety, as in the case of m,y grandmother's brain tumor. Not only did the surgery leave her unable to speak, walk, or even feed herself, but it left her with the same life expectancy as doing nothing. Through it all, my grandmother was brave and my mother devotedly stayed by her side and cared for her. I wish we had this doctor.
I have met very few doctors who have not responded to a patient with kindness and dignity. Maybe most have not the time to write a note to follow their care, but their hearts are in the touch and direction of patient care, and most doctors go beyond the plans for their care. Don't be so hard on your care taker. It takes a special person to work with patients day in and day out, 24/7, doing the right thing for their care. From 0 days old to beyond geriatric ages, having the patience and working through the tiredness, praying for a clear mind, writing down the symptoms for the right tests being ready to pass on to the shifts.
We all care for our patients no matter what mood they are in, wanting to get them well, comfortable, and be able to comfort the family in dire needs.
Pray for us, for the patient and most of all, have faith God is with us.
For all of the negative comments directed at caregivers: Do you have any idea the patient load most doctors have? How many hours they spend taking care of their patients every day? Not 8-5 on weekdays, but including weekends, holidays, 2 a.m. calls when a patient requests to see them rather the on-call doc at hospitals? How much of their off time that they spend working, even if they're not getting paid for it? How about how much time they miss with their very OWN families? How many dance recitals, graduations, Christmas mornings they miss with their own loved ones because they made a commitment to care for others? I don't know a single doctor who is doing it for the money. For anyone to complain because a caregiver didn't write them a personal note, come to a funeral, etc. is pretty selfish. Maybe they should have been taking care of some of those social graces instead of caring for your loved one? Yeah, didn't think so.
I must tell you that while everyone is surprised that this note came from a doctor, I am ONLY surprised because they are so busy and their time with patients in the ED is hurried and centered on treatment, not emotions. However, doctors have gone through many years of intensive training and education to basically serve others, and so they do have compassion and caring. Also, things like this happen in the realm of nursing EVERY DAY. Nurses wear their hearts on their sleeves. Love your nurses, because they surely love you.
Most dr's Handwriting is fine! They write 'bad' you think? Wrong.!! What your seeing is Shorthand tied in with coding to prevent forgery and understanding. Its something they do at once- shorthand, latin,greek mainly in cursive. If it wasn't legible do you really think the pharmacy would tolerate it? HELL NO!
No you understand now don't you?! Its very hard to read or forge something you dont understand. This is how they catch forgers who will change the 10 to a 100 etc. Yet- the dr MAY have wrote 10 mg with some other scratch. What they REALLY wrote was the dose and drug in english numeric AND another UNREADABLE format like Shorthand,Greek etc.. Now you've learned something my friend.
Wonderful gesture. It reminds me of the opposite situation. My mother died and afterwards I wrote a letter of thanks to her doctor of eight years. I received nothing, not even a sympathy card from his office. Funny thing is that a couple years before, my mother had to put her dog down as it was so old. She was surprised and touched as was I when she received a card from the veterinarian expressing his sympathy.
when my husband died, the attending dr. was very comassionate towards me. and her words comforted me as she explained all the medical problems he had in terms i understood and spoke to me as a person not just another passer by. she was a great help to me and she also attended the memorial service an that was the 1st time i ever met her.
My daughter is a CNP and is an oncologist in the Melanoma Clinic at a large Midwest clinic. All of her patents are terminal and she strives to treat them to give them the longest and best life possible. I could never do her job. She has to deliver bad news to patients daily. She is a fine clinician and a wonderful person. Many of her patients reschedule their appointments if she is not there rather than see a physician. She regularly sends notes to the relatives of her patients that have died. She even traveled 75 miles once, to attend the funeral of a long time patient. I am so-o-s proud of her.
My father was in a car accident in 1997 and spent two weeks in the trauma center at Memorial Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia. He passed away from his injuries. The doctors and nurses were so kind and we were especially impressed with the care of the chief trauma doctor, Dr. Gabe Oschner. He wrote a condolence letter to both my sister and me in response to the Thank you notes we sent him. I will always treasure that letter as proof of the compassion shown to my beloved father.
My amazing wife, Christine, died from cancer at the age of only 38. Her oncologist really became involved in our struggle and was much more than just a doctor to us. He also spoke at her funeral. This level of personal involvement must be very difficult for a physician, but meant so much to our family. We will never forget the true love and care of Dr. Jonathan whisenet.
my wife passed away in 2012 nurses at the hospital were there evey time she needed them and they cried the day she left there to come home for the final time week later got a card from them all signed it and expressed their feelings for her also the nurses when she was doing dialysis, sent cards and even one came to the house to see her for the final time will never forget that or them
My husband is a genetics doctor and also on the autism spectrum. He says many of his colleagues (doctors, scientists) are on the spectrum. He says it's a benefit and helps them devote their lives to research, treating patients, finding cures, dealing with dying people, etc.
I am NOT implying that all doctors and scientists are on the AU spectrum. Just pointing out that hubs sees a benefit to AU's being in the field. I read so many comments from doctors about how hard it is to deal with dying patients, and how they become desensitized. That has to be so difficult.
When either as a nurse, doctor, x-ray technician, laboratory technician, all the way down to the orderly who cleans the ER or hospital, you lose you empathy to your fellow man/woman, it is time to change your profession. Don't get me wrong. I am not saying you have to crawl into the fetal position every time a critical care patient comes in. However, it also is not a crime to feel sad or even have your eyes fill a bit when a passing occurs. That is what is called being HUMAN. God did not intend us to be non-feeling, non-empathetic blob of flesh. He intended us to be just the opposite. Many times I have cried in the ER. Many times, I have found a closet once the dust settled and I just stepped in, closed the door and let my emotions go. Frankly it was what kept me sane for 20 years+. When it is hot and heavy and the ER is the chaotic place it always will be, I can still remain calm, do the job I love and was born to do and at the end of the day or after a particularly difficult case I am not ashamed to shed a tear or two even if it is in front of fellow colleagues.
it's hard to believe that a doctor wrote that since i've never been able to read my doctor's writing on anything.
I've had to stamp my foot and hold my breath till I turned blue to get my doctor to stop saying that something was too complicated to explain to me. He finally learned that I also have a reasonably functioning brain and that I can comprehend things more sophisticated than American Idol or Spiderman.
Regardless of the authenticity, let's just believe for a brief moment in time that there are a few angels here on earth, and that the scrouge we know as cancer will be done someday very soon. To those in the fight, we are in this together, and we must never ever lose hope.
I'd bet money this is a hoax. When was the last time you saw anything written by a physician that was actually legible.
@Manchie This is, unfortunately, the case. My sister worked in an ER for years-----so much precludes any personal involvement--it's sad.
@LouiseBleil I don't understand what you mean...Nevertheless, it's really tacky to inject something as annoying as politics into an otherwise heart warming story. Shame on you for trying to sneak this in.
@GuestyGuest It was a female doctor--there is hope !
@Seriously One of my surgeons, upon seeing me sobbing and begging for help, reached over, closed the exam room door, and stated, "why are you so distressed? It's not you. It's about money. It's all about the money". I was having complications from his surgery on my shoulder (later requiring two extensive revisions) and kept returning to see him and tell him. I LIVE with 24/7 pain in that shoulder. Thank God he moved back to NY! I hope he doesn't hurt another as he did me. The second surgeon stated, "I've never seen anything like this". Too much autonomy, not enough accountability.
@Seriously I think that goes for all medical professionals--doctors,nurses, medical assistants, CNA, etc. I believe that anyone that works outside the medical field has absolutely no idea the "burden" the medical professional carries. I personally do not know any medical professional that is in it for the money---and I've been involved in the field for over 20 years now.
@Seriously "I don't know a single doctor who is doing it for the money," yes, emergency room doctors may not be doing it for the money, but how about the dermatologists?
Call me cynical.
@thatdamnliberal well, true and false, in my case. My "writing" as in cursive has always been essentially illegible, even to me. As soon as I left High School, I switched to printing (or typing) everything, and after seeing other physicians crappy writing, took extra care in medical school and later to make sure that what I wrote is perfectly legible. The only thing that is utterly illegible is my signature, but I maintain that the standard for signatures should be distinctiveness, not legibility.
Lovely comment, Dad. It did my heart good to read it. If this was my daughter, I would be beyond proud of her, too. You have obviously done an excellent job raising such a compassionate, caring, intelligent woman. I'll bet she is just as proud of you. I wish I could pat you on the back. Thank you for helping to nuture such a kind and loving person. The world needs more people like her, and more parents like you.
My most sincere condolences on the loss of your amazing wife, brimley. I am so very sorry.
Thank you, Calibabe. Thank you for being a caring professional. Thank you for doing your life's work with compassion and empathy. Thank you.
@ezr2061 When my students present patients to me, if they say anything remotely jargonly (jargonish?) I stop them and ask "what does that mean?" As they continue, if they do it again, I ask "what does that mean?" rinse and repeat until they are speaking plain English. I tell them if they cannot understand it well enough to describe it in plain English, they do not understand it well enough.
@ezr2061 If you have to do that to get your doctor to talk to you, its time to find a new doctor.
Oh, Mike, I am so sorry. Your last sentence said it all. I too have seen this ugly scourge up close and personal. Thankfully, not my children, spouse, parents or myself, but I have lost many others that I cared deeply for, and subsequently were some of the best people I have ever known. Hoping for your quick recovery. Keep fighting. Don't let the b@stard win.
I work for a practice of 9 doctors & there are only 3 of which whose handwriting is hard to read. The rest actually have really nice, legible writing, whether it's cursive or print. The 3 with chicken scratch dictate their notes :-)
@RDaneelOlivaw @ezr2061 I went to school, briefly, for architecture and the gratuitous, self satisfied, and unnecessary indulgence in the highly specialized jargon of the field was one of the prime factors leading to my early departure from further related studies. Whenever a profession cloaks itself in excessive use of inscrutable, pompous, vague verbiage there's obviously a substantial amount of deception, distraction and delusion at play. Most "professionals" are so eager to justify their financially privileged career choices by whatever means is offered, and brandishing seemingly erudite language is a common ploy. By instructing your charges to lay off the "lingo" you may, in effect, be depriving them of a traditional and convenient tool for intimidating the customer, or as they are more commonly referred, the patient. Many people, unfortunately, are willing stooges who are cowed and impressed by authority figures who spew gobbledygook. I'm much less impressed by someone wielding arcane terminology than I am by someone who communicates as a healthy, normal, well adjusted human. Good for you. Bravo.