A happy person makes a happy patient: Dr Amrita More

Dr Amrita More completed her MBBS from Karnataka in 2010 and did her post graduation in General Surgery from Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Delhi. She also worked in the department of Burns and Plastic Surgery at RML Hospital. She then pursued her super specialization as M.Ch. in Plastic Surgery from Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi. A member of Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, her work involves hand surgery, burns and cancer reconstructive surgery. She has a keen interest in microsurgery and aesthetic surgery.

Dr. More talks to THIP Media about the ideal patient behaviour and the factors that make treatment difficult.

What is the best thing you enjoy about treating patients?

The experience of interacting with someone in need and being able to alleviate his suffering through my work is very immersive. Each patient I come across, whether I am able to help them or not, teaches me something about myself and how I can be a better doctor and a better human being. Meeting any old patient of mine who is doing well for himself always brings a smile to my face.

When is a patient easy to treat?

It is always easier to educate and manage expectations of a patient when the patient is realistic and takes interest in the process and course of his treatment. We can operate but the recovery depends a lot on the patient’s attitude and willingness to do their part through rest, physiotherapy, follow up, etc. So, a motivated and obedient patient is highly desirable. Lastly, a positive attitude goes a long way and we often see that a happy person makes a happy patient.

When is a patient difficult to treat?

There are multiple cases when carrying out an effective treatment becomes difficult for a doctor. Personally, I see the following causes as a hurdle to treatments –

Living in denial– When patients refuse to acknowledge they have a problem that needs treatment. Sometimes patient will go to any length to avoid surgery. During my general surgery days, we saw many patients with kidney stones. When the stone is large, surgery is recommended and we advised the patient the same. More often than not patient would say “mujhe jo bologe wahi karunga but operation nahi”. Unfortunately few of these patients came back to us after a few months and years of treatment by hakim, baba, jadibooti and the entire length and breadth of gharelu nuskhe with kidneys full of pus and on the verge of kidney failure requiring emergency surgery. And then they ask “Sab theek ho jaega na?”

“Dr. Google”– It is very difficult to convince someone when they ‘think’ they know everything. If ‘Google’ is such a reliable medical consultant then why are we spending so much time plus money on training doctors. Please give some credit to the doctors for they might know a thing or two and they are trying to help you unlike other platforms who do not share that responsibility.

Unrealistic expectations– Does anyone remember the iconic movie ‘Khoon bhari maang’ where the side actor heroine gets plastic surgery by a foreign plastic surgeon (Tom Alter) who turns her into the gorgeous ‘Rekha.’ Many patients think that is plastic surgery. The patient thinks ‘How difficult can a face transplant be when kidney transplants are happening in so many hospitals.’ A face transplant is a very complex surgery and such things happen only in films.

Another common situation is when patient comes to us asking for a nose like so and so and lips like so and so. Unfortunately surgeons do not have the option of copy-pasting. Patients must realize that in this day and age of photo shopping and brands and marketing, not everything that glitters is gold. Every procedure has its risks and complications and they should read the fine print before building crazy ideals and goals.

Doctor shaming– I get at least one patient every day who starts by saying, “I was doing fine until so and so doctor complicated my case.” When I see the treatment records I find that more often than not the doctor has the best intention at heart and did what was necessary. Then why does the patient feel that way? This could be because of miscommunication or unwillingness to take responsibility for their own actions. But I do know that such words do not endear the patient to us, rather they make us apprehensive to treat that patient at all, as despite my best efforts this patient might go to another doctor tomorrow and say the exact same thing.

“Thoda discount milega?”– Do you go a fancy restaurant, branded clothes’ shop or movie theatre and ask for a discount? No, right? You are worried that you may offend someone or it might spoil your reputation. Then how is it okay to discredit a doctor’s 15 years of training and expertise by asking for discount. Also know that the doctors fee in the entire bill in most corporate hospital is usually only 10 to 20%.

How helpful is it to the treatment course, if the patient is knowledgeable about the treatment procedure, benefits, risks etc.?

It is very helpful. Patient knows what to expect and is mentally prepared (less chances of the blood pressure shooting up during surgery). Such a patient is usually calmer, tolerates pain much better and the recovery is smoother.

A knowledgeable patient understands that obeying the doctor’s instructions are in his best interest. He understands the time required for recovery and will be less apprehensive.

Complications can happen anywhere and to anyone. A knowledgeable patient is aware of this and deals with unforeseen events better. Does not harbour unrealistic expectations and does not blame the doctor for all his problems.

How medical misinformation act as a problem in the overall treatment procedure?

It is a big, big problem.

A few advice that you always give to your patients…

Get regular check ups – it is better to catch the thief early than repent later.

If you have a symptom, get appropriate consultation as soon as possible. Do not rely on ‘Internet’ to diagnose or treat yourself. Diabetes and high blood pressure are long-term illnesses. Consult your doctor before starting/ changing dose/ stopping your medications.

If you are not sure, do not hesitate to get a second opinion from a trained doctor, preferably from a specialist.

Eat well, exercise a little, be happy.

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