Elisabeth Kubler-Ross once said,” “We have to ask ourselves whether medicine is to remain a humanitarian and respected profession or a new but depersonalized science in the service of prolonging life rather than diminishing human suffering.” In the health care field there are many roles that balance each other. Whether it is the doctor, patient, or medical assistant all play a vital role in the care of others. The purpose of this paper is to compare the differences in communication between the different roles in the hospital. This paper will also be providing an appropriate solution for the scenario provided.
The scenario provided is about a young Asian girl named Lena. She was taken to the emergency room by her friend Susie after she fainted in class. Raised in a culture, which has made Lena independent, She verbally attacks her friend yelling about how she is not weak. When she tries to leave, Susie retrieves the medical assistant. The medical assistant restrains Lena and is then sent away by the doctor. The doctor tries to reason with Lena and explain why she is there, but gets no response from her. Finally, the doctor leaves to care for other patients.
For this scenario I will be examining the role of the doctor first. From the perspective of the doctor, Lena is very stubborn. This doctor has to see dozens of patients a day and does not have time to argue with one patient who does not want to be there. A doctor’s time is precious, especially in the emergency room. Although the doctor sees many cases which are easy, such as a runny nose or a broken finger, there are many emergencies that require immediate attention. If there was a call for a doctor to assist in a patient from a major auto accident , this doctor may choose to put a fainting girl on the sideline to assist with the trauma. On the other hand, the doctor should still attempt to treat the patient to the best of his or her abilities in the short time allowed. There are other ways to gain information regarding Lena’s situation, which will be discussed later.
The medical assistant was the first medical professional to confront Lena after she woke up. From the tone of voice portrayed in the scenario, the medical assistant wanted to help the patient. The assistant rushed to the patient’s side, knowing she was very sick and needed medical attention. Unfortunately, Lena could not be reasoned with between the time the medical assistant arrived and the time the doctor walked in. The medical assistant was not given enough time to calm the patient or explain the situation.
Susie seems concerned for her best friend’s health and safety. Even though Susie knows her friend has an independent attitude, there has to be a reason she brought Lena to the emergency room. Unless Lena had been sick for a while or had fainted before, there would be no cause for Susie to rush her to the hospital. Susie also shows her concern for Lena by rushing to get the attention of the medical assistant when Lena tries to leave. Susie must believe that Lena’s health is important enough to bring her to a place where she can get the medical help she needs to get better.
Finally, there is Lena, the patient. Lena was brought up to be independent and strong. Many residents raised in Southeast Asia that find it hard to conform to western medicine. Even though Lena has lived in the United States for 10 years, which means she has spent the majority of life around the medicinal practices of her parents and her culture. As an example, if Lena is from Vietnam her knowledge of medicine would be vastly different (Schultz, 1980). In most areas of Vietnam, residents and medical practitioners steer away from prescription medicine and favor herbs instead. Eastern medicine relies heavily on the spiritual element in the human body as much as western medicine relies on the chemical makeup (Vietnam National Administration Of Tourism, 2010). If Lena was used to Vietnamese eastern medicine her reaction to being in the hospital is not surprising. Her idea of medicine may come in the form of a root instead of a bottle.
Within the scenario are many complications with the communication between individuals. First, there is the confrontation between Lena and Susie. Lena instantly blames Susie for taking her to the hospital. While Susie is her best friend and is the one sitting in the room with her, it may not have been Susie’s choice to send Lena to the emergency room. Because Lena fainted in class, it would be the responsibility of her instructor to make sure she was taken care of. The instructor’s reaction may have been to call the paramedics to make sure the student received proper medical attention.
There would have been nothing Susie could have said to prevent the paramedics and medical professionals from making the decision to take Lena to see a doctor. Once at the hospital, Susie could have worked to calm her friend down before rushing to find the medical assistant to restrain her. She could have also provided some insight, to the doctor, regarding Lena’s recent medical problems leading to the fainting. This may have softened the doctor’s approach to Lena’s silence.
While the medical professional was doing her job by keeping the patient in the hospital, extra empathy should have been given. The initial approach was rough and direct. Each patient should be given the same consideration regardless of the circumstances. Instead of verbally attacking Lena, the medical assistant should have approached Lena in a different manner. Being too direct will put the patient in a defensive position rather than a position to listen. When the medical assistant states she doesn’t have time to deal with Lena, it lowers the value of the patients worth as someone who needs care. It is like saying the person with a bloody nose should take priority over someone who has fainted and may have a serious underlying condition. Admonishing a patient and telling them they are sick is worthless. Lena knows she is sick. She just wants to prove she can cure herself without the interference of doctors. Had the medical assistant shown more empathy and expressed her understanding of Lena’s situation it may have diffused the angry encounter.
Many communication conflicts with the doctor in regard to everyone else in the room. First is the treatment of the medical assistant by the doctor. From the scenario we can see that the doctor was close behind the assistant as she came through the door. The medical assistant did not have enough time to do her job before the doctor told her to leave the room. Had the doctor allowed the medical assistant to stay in the room it may have had a positive effect on the patient. If the doctor is a male, Lena may have felt uncomfortable around him and the presence of a female assistant may ease the worry. The doctor could have gained immeasurable information about Lena’s condition from Susie.
Had the doctor questioned the best friend it could have revealed how long this had been going on and what other symptoms Lena had been exhibiting. Instead the doctor completely ignores Susie and turns attention to Lena. When the doctor tells Lena what is going on he does not pay attention to how, she is reacting, only that she is not answering the questions. The doctor makes the assumption that Lena is quite on purpose and leaves to go treat other patients.
In the scenario are a few key points that the doctor missed and misinterpreted. Just like with the medical assistant, more care should have been given to calming Lena down instead of becoming defensive. By being understanding, the doctor would have caught the signs of something more serious going on with Lena’s health. The blank look on her face may not have given much away, depending on her age. Many people who look blank or vacant when someone is telling him or her about a topic they know little about. However, her eyes may have helped the doctor realize something serious was happening. A blank look may mean nothing, but a glassy eyed stare could mean something.
Lena had started to sweat profusely. Most hospitals keep the complex cooler than normal to help stave off nausea and fever in most patients. The sweating, blank stare, and non-responsiveness could have signaled the doctor there was something worse than just fainting in Lena’s condition. With just the few symptoms exhibited in the scenario, Lena could be suffering anything from heat exhaustion to a deadly pulmonary embolism (WebMD, LLC, 2010).
Last, there is the patient, Lena. Her lack of communication is born from family traditions that go back hundreds of years. Even so, Lena has lived in the United States for 10 years. It would be impossible for her to live in this country and go to school here without seeing a western medicine doctor. She could be used to smaller clinics; however, her reaction to the emergency room is unwarranted. The scenario made it seem as if Lena did not want to talk to the doctor because she resented being in the hospital. Her outburst upon waking, and her non-responsiveness to the doctor, may have been a part of her illness. She might not have been aware of where she was by the time the doctor was through explaining her condition.
An appropriate solution for the situation should be patience and empathy. The medical assistant and the doctor should have been more understanding toward the patient. There should have been compassion toward a young girl who was upset and confused. More attention to detail was needed by the doctor. Susie should have spoken up when Lena could not. Her information could help her friend from getting worse. Lena, having lived in the United States for 10 years, should have been willing to hear what the doctor had found before making the decision to leave.
I have been in the customer service field for 13 years. From Banking, to telecommunication, to healthcare, the only factor that changes is the service provided. There will always be someone else who needs the attention of the representative. The key to communicating to a customer is empathy. Allowing a person to realize you understand their situation and showing a willingness to help, makes the difference. When you have a patient who is screaming and upset, you cannot take it personally. They are hurt, confused, and afraid. A caregiver cannot treat patients the same if they take everything personally. Lena was not yelling because she hated the assistant or the doctor. She was yelling because she did not think she was as sick as the doctor did. Both the doctor and the assistant treated Lena as if she were wasting their time, instead of looking at the situation rationally.
In conclusion, communication all comes down to how a person handles customer service. Each role in this scenario is a tough one to have. First, the patient, who is full of fear and has been raised to think differently. Next, the best friend, who is afraid of losing her friend to illness but is too scared to speak up. Third, the assistant, who has many other patients to see. Last, the doctor, who is skilled in what he does, but fails to see the obvious signs of something worse. All of these roles are true, from day to day. They are in every hospital, clinic, and emergency room. There should be more classes within medical schooling that teach caregivers how to show empathy and understanding to their patients. There should also be continuing education for all caregivers to refresh what they have been taught.
WebMD, LLC. (2010). WebMD Symptom Checker. Retrieved from http://symptoms.webmd.com/symptomchecker Vietnam National Administration Of Tourism. (2010). Vietnam Traditional Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.vietvisiontravel.com/vietnam/travel-guide/Traditional_medicine/ Schultz, S. L. (1980, August). Southeast Asian Health Beliefs and Practices. Education Resources Information Center
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