Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Yesterday I needed to see my doctor to get some forms filled out. I called his office to book an appointment and was told that there had been a cancellation and that if I could get right there I could get right in. Well, hopped in the ol' power chair and made my way down. Joe always comes along with me when I see the doctor, as I do when he has his appointments, so we chatted as we wandered down the street.

Once in, once done with the paperwork, the doctor asked if we'd like our flu shots. We agreed. He asked if a student doctor could come in and see how flu shots were given. We both want to advance the cause of medical science so we agreed.

It was interesting to hear my doctor give the training to this 'doctor in training'. He talked more about patient comfort than anything else. He explained why he used a new needle after drawing the flu shot stuff (remember I'm not a doctor and have no idea what that's called) out. "The act of puncturing the top slightly blunts the needle and makes it a bit more painful to give the shot. So, use a new needle."

Then he explained how he was "all about the research" and spoke to her about what the research said about using alcohol to wipe down the arm, and how it didn't really make any difference. "But," he said, "it makes the patients more comfortable because it's a routine they are familiar with and here patient comfort and patient anxiety is the greater concern."

It was great to see and hear this training. It was great that the idea that patients feel and that patients have expectations and that patient comfort matters. Often doctors get a bad rap, but I wonder if they were all trained to think about and care about the really basic needs of the HUMAN BEINGS who are their patients, they may be a little different.

We are very lucky to have such good medical care.

But really, luck shouldn't have anything to do with it!


Anonymous said...

Glad you got your flu shot stuff - and glad the doctor gave you insight into good "training" of a new physician!

Colleen said...

I have huge trust issues with doctors due to being abused by a couple of doctors. I would love to find a doctor like the one you have. You are very lucky to have found him.

clairesmum said...

Excellent doc you have....his explanation of why he changes the needle is accurate, and is often the reason why some shots hurt more than others. This step is often skipped to save money (use less supplies) or time (staff convenience.) As a nurse who taught students how to give injections, your doctor is right - it is all about patient comfort - glad he is YOUR doc, and that he is teaching new docs.

Moose said...

Once upon a time I was in the hospital for a kidney stone. Miserable, horrible experience. I don't recommend it to anyone. Once they got me pumped full of morphine it became... tolerable.

My roommate was an elderly lady who was undergoing chemo. The chemo was making her very ill - so ill that she had rapidly lost a lot of weight and they were afraid to keep going with the chemo. They'd admitted her in hopes of being able to stabilize her health and help her regain some weight.

One of the things they did was get her on a medication designed to stimulate her appetite. Unfortunately it had to be injected, and as many people are, she was terrified of the idea of giving herself a shot. Even people who don't mind getting shots given by others can be afraid of giving themself an injection.

First a nurse came in and tried to talk her through things, but I could hear how scared the woman was. Then a doctor came back in with the nurse, and their encouragements were mostly "But you have to do this!" type stuff. So, I interrupted.

I said something like, "I know this is none of my business, but I've been giving myself injections for a while. Here's some things that can help." And then I went through things I'd learned in my then-five years as a diabetic: How to quickly warm up a bottle from the fridge, because cold liquid can make the needle cold which can hurt more; how to touch the needle to your skin before injecting - if you can feel it painfully it will hurt to inject there, so move to another spot; that you should avoid an area around the belly button (1-2", different for each) because there are more nerves there, etc.

For the first couple of moments of my babbling the doctor and nurse stared at me with wide eyes, and I kept expecting them to tell me to shut up. As I wound down they started saying things like, "Listen to her. She's done this before, so she knows what it's like." When it was time for an insulin shot the woman watched me give it to myself and she said, "You make it look so easy!" I said, "The first couple of times are kinda terrifying. After the first day, it's like you've always done it."

A bit later the nurse came back with the stuff for the woman to inject herself. It wasn't as painless as she'd hoped but it also wasn't so awful. They released her from the hospital the next day after she'd given herself a couple more injections.

The point isn't me. The point is that a good doctor cares about what the patient feels and about his or her fears, and that, sometimes, a personal experience trumps "doctor knowledge."