Diagnosis should not only be focusing on the patient but also in the patient’s environment as these factors equally affect their illness. If doctors would just look beyond the body symptoms and further investigate the external env’t and sociocultural setting in the first place, it would be easier to see the whole picture, to diagnose quickly (eliminating too many unnecessary lab tests and transfers to doctors and clinics) and treat more specifically. I hope our future doctors adopt this compassionate, upstream approach to treatment as this will not only be more efficient and economical to the patient but will also save the doctor’s time than can be precious for another life-saving act.
By Paul Farmer
At the end of almost a decade spent in teaching hospitals and clinics, most (we hope all) physicians have honed their clinical acumen by focusing on the care of the patient who is right in front of them. Perhaps this is as it should be: as patients, we don’t want our doctors (or nurses or social workers) distracted by “outside” considerations such as the suffering or concerns of other patients not there in the exam room or, heaven forfend, by abstractions such as the extra-personal social forces that place people in harm’s way. We want the doctor focused on us, by bringing expertise and attention to our specific “illness episode” and even to our minor aches and pains. That’s what we want: laser-like focus, to use another term from the medical profession, on our own “chief complaint.”
Or do we? What if most of our aches and…
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