Fresh from vacation I was eager to start my work day and week. Task #1 stop at Albany Medical Center and see some patients recently admitted to Hospitalists. Both had new aggressive lesions in bone. Both were older than 50 years of age. Both clearly had the attention of the medical community. And CANCER of some form needed to be found and treated.
The Lost ART. Communication! Neither patient really had a grasp of what was going on and what the true concerns were. It wasn’t just denial that is frequently seen early in a work-up. It was more the lack of communication and BIG PICTURE discussions with each patient.
Each individual handles the news a bit differently, but one constant I have witnessed repeatedly is the unknown period is the hardest to handle. Patients feel isolated. Left alone. Discouraged that no one has answers. “Will anyone be able to help me? Is it all in my head?” Both of these patients today clearly expressed this. Both wanted and deserved answers. At this point the questions out number the answers. I spoke very matter of fact to both, it is best to be direct. We outlined a plan and I assured both they would have answers ASAP.
I will use these experiences to help educate the many healthcare providers who encounter similar clinical challenges: medical students, residents, nurses and other ancillary staff. There is clearly room for improvement in both communication and efficiency.