Emergence

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Your Doctor May Be Laughing AT You

Now what could be worse than getting laughed at by someone who's seen you with your pants down? Okay, it would be worse to be caught amidst a genocide, live trapped inside an abusive marriage sanctioned by a sexist culture or get the chicken pocks right before giving birth. Nevertheless, probably you'd be pretty upset if you knew the professionalism of your doctor went out the door after you, leaving your quirks and vulnerabilities the possible subject of crass and callous humor -- the coping mechanisms of choice among many physicians.

I remember lying on the OR table getting a C-section, while the doctors tossed jokes back and forth about their favorite TV show. That was disturbing. But apparently, it gets worse when you leave. Or if you're asleep. According to my med student husband, it's the culture: comraderie and coping at the expense of patient dignity. So how can doctors cope with a conscience? If "coping" jokes have to be at the expense of someone, or something, why not focus on the exploitive pharmaceutical companies or the cheesy paint-by-numbers artwork occupying the office walls? Or make fun of your own illegible charting notes, or your over-gelled hair or the semen stain on your white coat. And if you must have a catharsis at a patient's expense, go home and do it with your partner. If you don't have a partner, vent to your dog. If you don't have a dog, tell your goldfish, and if you don't have a goldfish, get one. Or get a shrink. But do not humiliate a patient by discussing them derogatorily amongst office staff whom they will see again in the future. And don't make poking fun at patients a sport. For God's sake.

2 comments:

Amy said...

This made me laugh, Jemila. Of course, you also have the doctors that don't know how to mind their own business...

When I was pregnant with my 3rd child (I had a two and a half year old and 11 month old at the time), I cut off the pad on my ring finger with a cutting machine. The doc took one look at my chart, cocked his head and said, "Didn't anyone tell you about birth control?" He wasn't joking...

Jemila Monroe said...

Ha! That's hilarious.