At a loss for words

I had been wondering to ask this or not for sometime, as I kind of feel a little stupid when I am at loss for words during patient interaction, OR if I say something I wonder if I made the person feel better or worse!

For e.g. I walked a patient back from the bathroom the other day holding his IV and then made him confortable in his bed. He was alone and wanted to talk. He started showing his legs and they were blue everywhere. Geez … I broke a sweat, and ran (without giving a thought that he was saying something) to ask the nurse to check that everything was ok with him. She just covered him with few more blankets. Aaarrrgghh!

There are other situations where I have said something to be nice, and then doubt it later!

Is there anything like bedside manners type of reading for idiots?

Sometimes patients just want someone to chit chat with. Pick a topic and start.

I have never seen a “Miss Manners” for physicians. maybe you can write it. It does seem somtimes in the rush to move the tasks of the day along a lot of basic courtesy sometimes is lost.

A few of my guidlines: when ever you can, sit down to to interview your patient. they feel more at ease and your feet will thank you for the break.

2) Use your ears as much as your mouth. They are your best dignostic tool.

3) remeber: most patients will get better, and most of the time it will be in spite of you. A thought I find both reassuring and humbling at once.

  • swy55 Said:

Use your ears as much as your mouth. They are your best dignostic tool.

I completely agree. Listening is so important.

Something I've also become acutely aware of -- being in a hospital (or just seeing a doctor, for that matter) can be an incredibly scary thing. Very often patients or their family members just want to talk. Sometimes about their concerns related to their health, sometimes about the weather, sometimes about their grandchildren, etc. They often just want someone who will listen to them, who will take time to listen to them. Many medical practitioners don't give them that. So if you can, you will be a blessing to them.

I had an experience when I was working in a hospital several years ago where I met a lovely woman whose husband was on a ventilator. She and I would chat while I stocked the nurse's cart in her husband's ICU room. He was there for quite awhile. I never did anything heroic, yet the brief conversations I had with her apparently meant so much that after they went home, she actually sent a thank-you note (to the ICU, as she clearly did not have my address) thanking me for helping her through such a difficult time.

So it truly can be the little things that make all the difference.

Haha. Indeed, “Miss Manners and Thankful Feet”, it is!

I rarely get any patient interaction, but sometimes yeah, they just want to talk. I still never know what to say. “Hope you feel better” seems empty when you know their in great pain. Or worse if they’re terminal…you might not know their condition as a volunteer somewhere.

I guess it’s the skill you pick up over a long time.

It just takes a little thinking getting comfortable in these situations:

I got to watch the upper and lower endoscopy last week. SO- the nurse put me next to the patient since the time she came in. Very fragile and 60+ woman. She said I would have to pay her to let me watch her procedure. I told her I can surely pay in kindness. We smiled and connected.

She had a complication during her procedure and was very scared that something will be wrong with her. When her procedure ended and we got her back into the recovery room - she wanted to talk to me. I had fun explaining things to her in my layman language.

She got scared when nurse told her that polyps were found and she will get the results in 10-15 business days. I was able to talk her out of that fear until she really needs to worry.

No fear, no nervousness. I think I got over it.

There might be some useful takeaways from the book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. I listened to the audio book for some required “reading” I had to accomplish for a business program.

I forgot all seven habits, but in general, listening to people can go a long way. By listening, this goes beyond sitting there and nodding a head, but showing a true interest in what a person is talking about. Being a SINCERE listener makes people feel important and they’ll be much easier to work with if you have their trust. Most of the advice in the book seems obvious but putting it to practice is the key. Avoid being fake, just be another human willing to listen.

As a supervisor in my pre-premed life, I found that in some situations when people come to you with their problems, they don’t always want a lot of feedback. Frequently, people just want to speak their problems “out loud” to someone that will listen to them without being judgmental.

I talk a lot to the patients seen in my office, I think they are all relieved that someone in the office is speaking with them since they only get a 15 minute appt. I just pick a topic like Gabe said and go with it. Usually commenting on something like what they’re wearing or the weather or an upcoming event does the trick and then they seem to just open up from there. The doctors in the practice where I work always tell me how great it is to see someone being so personable with the patients and many of them thank me for listening. I like knowing that just by my listening for a little while I may have made their day a little better.

This is a wonderful topic that has potential to go on forever lol. Thanks for raising a question that I’d never asked myself…“can I communicate genuinely with my patients?”

Apparently there exists several good books on this topic: nts/pro…

On a more light-hearted note, Scrubs web vid on patient interactions:

Funny stuff!

That is funny indeed! Thanks!

Last week, I discussed Dr. House with one of the nurses at the hospital I volunteer at; what a fun conversation it was?

Gotta keep oneself and others entertained! Enjoy!