Having spent numerous hours in various out-patient departments, I’ve observed how differently each doctor handles a patient. A lump in the neck is examined with a skilled but soft touch at times. The same lesion is handled with a sort of ruggedness when examined by other doctors. The seniority or popularity of the doctor has nothing to do with his/her way of diagnosis. Then why does this difference exist in the first place?
Patients are just people like you and me. Engaged in their own busy lives, they seek out medical help only if something in their body interrupts their normal routine (hypochondriacs excluded of course). Before actually going to a hospital or clinic, they try to treat it using home-remedies, or as of recently, google-remedies. Some even try and wait it out thinking the lesion/symptom is just in their heads. When nothing works, they finally make up their mind to go see a doctor. A good part of the population of our country often goes to the wrong department of specialists for their ailments; either due to their own ignorance or lack of guidance by the hospital staff. Thus, a patient sitting in front of a doctor in the examination room is there after a lot of contemplation. On the other hand, the doctor is seeing him/her after spending four hours examining the exact same lesion in a dozen other patients. Repeatedly doing the same task over and over again without taking a breath in between, is enough to make anyone indifferent towards the way they did the task.
Do doctors really lose their empathy once they start seeing patients in full-swing? Is it a sort of armor they wear in order to shield their diagnosis and treatment from being influenced by their emotions? It’s a fact that the doctor is to patient ratio in our country is alarmingly low. But who or what is to be blamed, no one wants to say. It’s like a secret cabinet of the grey area, the hidden in the hidden. These aspects seem to be immaterial given the varied spectrum of diseases and the large population of our country. We thus tend to overlook how these small discrepancies maybe picked up by the upcoming generation of doctors observing quietly, standing at the corner of the room. Swamped or not, I feel a doctor should try and be as gentle and sensitive to each patient as much as humanely possible. For all we know, an extra minute of examination can stop a pre-malignant lesion from turning into a malignant one.
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