Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A Taste of Their Own Medicine

To this day, I still remember what it was like having a rectal exam done on me by a fellow classmate in medical school, and I think it has made me a better doctor. No camping out by the prostate for me. I think that is the rationale behind this idea of having resident physician get a taste of what it is like to be a hospital inpatient.
Clad in hospital gowns and assigned various ailments, six doctors at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital were poked for blood tests and had their vital signs checked regularly when they spent a recent night as patients.

"I think it's a really good experience for us," said Dr. Megan Stone, who was attached to a heart monitor for "a sudden onset of chest pains."

The fake illness was part of a special orientation for resident physicians in the Whittier hospital's Family Practice Residency Program. Six doctors from the program pretended to be patients and stayed overnight Sunday to get a taste of what it's like to be a patient, said Dr. Patti Newton, associate program director of curriculum.

"It will stick in your head if you experience it, rather than hearing a lecture," she said.

But if you really want doctors to have more compassion for patients, make them schedule themselves for an annual physical (without telling anyone they are a doctor) and see what it is like.

But the most effective way to improve healthcare in the US: require the President and all members of Congress to use Medicare.