Trust your doctor : Dr Sharad Malhotra

An accomplished Gastroenterologist from New Delhi, Dr Malhotra talks to THIP Media about what it takes to develop a common understanding and relation between a doctor and patient. He specifies how misinformation act as a barrier to build this trust.

What is the best thing you enjoy about treating patients?

It’s a great feeling to be able to make some difference in illness of a patient with my professional expertise.

When is a patient easy to treat?

When you have a patient who trusts you, willing to learn and understand the nature of the disease or exact nature of the medicine – then as a doctor the job becomes easy to treat.

When is a patient difficult to treat?

A lot of factors make it difficult to treat patients.

Sometimes patients walk in with too many family members or attendants. This makes the communication between the patient and doctor difficult.

There are patients who will come filled with knowledge acquired through Google search or with pre-conceived notions about a particular medicine. This also makes a doctor’s job difficult.

Another big problem that we face is the expectation from the doctor. If I am paying fees, I want 100% result in shortest possible time – this mindset doesn’t only harm the treatment course but also puts undue pressure on a doctor. It is necessary that you sit down with your doctor, discuss the nature of the disease and understand the course of medication he is suggesting.

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

I would say on a scale of 5, it will score 4 to have a patient who has some understanding of the disease. To start with, you will find him more accepting to his condition. This is especially important for patients who are suffering from chronic conditions. Also, such patients understand that the method to diagnose and treat a particular disease – this develops a bond of trust between the doctor and patient.

But it is important to differentiate between information and misinformation in this case. I will not advocate reading up from random websites on Google search.

How can a patient improve his knowledge about the treatment procedure (apart from consulting the doctor, of course)?

There are a number of patient groups like celiac society group, diabetes group. You can become part of those. You can discuss the disease with people who have some medical background. You can also refer to various authority medical websites or journals.

If you are not sure about a particular information, then ask your doctor.

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

This is THE biggest problem. We find patients who will be dogmatic about treatment methodologies, they will counter suggest illogical treatments based on heresy, will resort to unscientific, unproven treatment methodologies in middle of the treatment course. All these make the situation complex and difficult for any doctor to treat the patient.

A few advice that you always give to your patients…

Trust your doctor even if it takes time. Check information source or fact check any random suggestion you receive. Discuss with people who know the disease.

Other than this, I always suggest people to have a good medical insurance. A good treatment will always cost money. If you stay worried about finances, you will neglect your treatment. You cannot fight two battles together.

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