Tuesday, January 24, 2012

hear + see

"People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for." - To Kill a Mockingbird

I had a patient tell me today that his mother was misdiagnosed a few months ago simply because the doctor who saw her only heard what she was listening for and saw what she was looking for. This patient ended up the emergency room with a completely different diagnosis.

Sometimes (and by sometimes I mean always) it is easier to just not listen and assume you already know. Especially in my field. Patients come in all the time and sometimes before you even walk in the room you are 90% sure what their diagnosis will be, how you will treat it, and what you will likely find on their physical exam. You can know all this simply by reading what they're here for, and what their vitals are. But, this is dangerous. It is dangerous because when I do that, I stop listening to my patients. I stop looking for what they are actually trying to tell me. And not only can I miss something important, I can make them feel like I don't care in the process.

So this is a challenge to me. To truly listen, truly look. Most of the time I do, but there are those days when I'm running behind, stressed, and just want a break. It is in those times it would be easier just to assume and move on. But I pray that I won't.

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