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Patients or Patience?

Written by Chantal Cox-George · Monday 13th January 2014

Walking into a cubicle, introducing myself and acquiring a patient's permission to ask them a few questions about what brought them into hospital and then to examine them. Sounds simple enough, until you're in A&E, the patient is seriously ill and you're the first person to see them.

I learned the hard way this week, spending an hour with a patient only to realise that they were so confused (in the medical - not the academically challenged - sense) that the history that I had taken was essentially null & void. It was to be their partner and carer who would provide me with the history that would allow qualified members of the healthcare profession to attempt to make their loved one better.

Lesson 1. Sometimes the patient isn't the best person to tell you what's wrong with them.

Lesson 2. Sometimes they are.

On the flip side, some patients LOVE a good chinwag! They'll tell you everything about their health, family and day-to-day life without a moments pause. And it takes some guts to interrupt them mid-flow.. Despite the obvious time constraints, these are my favourite interactions. I often wonder how I find myself in such an honourable position. Why do people feel they can share so much of their life story with me? Some laugh, some cry, others just want to vent their frustrations. Either way I'm there, I'm listening, and most importantly I'm learning.

Written by Chantal Cox-George,
3rd Year Med Student at University of Bristol