Many comments are made about what 'bad' patients health professionals are. Thirty years as a surgeon have taught me how to function in the medical realm. I have learned how to care for patients, how to do a range of surgeries, how to teach others to do surgery and interact with patients. Over the years, I became comfortable in my role. But it did nothing to prepare me for being a patient. Perhaps, it even made it harder to be a patient.
I have been fortunate to have been relatively healthy until recently. But, over the past few months, I have had three hospitalizations. I had a relatively minor procedure on the first admission and surgeries on each of the next two. Facing these surgeries has been a source of stress for me, though has also taught me much.
It is very different being a patient. It is scary. For those without a medical background, I sense that it is a fear of the unknown. For health professionals, it is a fear of the known. We know what the risks are. While we work to try to make health care as safe as possible for our patients, not everything goes according to plan. Complications occur. Some patients even die during treatment, a few as a result of treatment. The risks overall may be small, but for those affected, they seem to be 100%. Despite health professionals doing their best for the patient. Despite reviewing each unexpected bad outcome to see what can be learned from it to improve care for future patients.
This blog is about of my experiences and musings of being on the sharp end of the knife.