Letter to the Editor
As usual, Dr. Edwin Leap offers sound, humorous, and touching advice in his article, “D/C: A Little More of the God's Honest Truth.” (EMN. 2019;41:21; http://bit.ly/2TgtHwl.) He reminds us that objectivity is not just numbers on a lab sheet. Sometimes, objectivity comes through sharing common sense.
Although I think this article was meant primarily for entertainment and to help us folks who have been in the trenches with these hypothetical patients to feel connected to other reasonable physicians, it made the point to remember the basics of being honest. It also made me think of the disservice we are doing to our patients when we hold back on common sense. We are to see the whole person, not just a diagnosis, and, importantly, we need to remember that people deserve the truth. It is difficult to tell someone their back pain is likely metastatic cancer or their baby conceived through IVF no longer has a heartbeat, but the truth is part of the healing, and it is necessary even though it can hurt.
If we are to look at our jobs objectively, I believe many will find we are not just performing technical actions and completing algorithms but we are fulfilling callings. We owe it to our patients to show them that they have choices and that they are empowered to choose differently, especially if their actions led to disease, destruction, or injury. It's OK to tell people we believe in them and that we want them to get well and stay safe. We should tell children to study hard so they can take over for us. We should remember to hold the patient's hand, look him in the eye with honesty and respect, and tell him the truth about not just medications but about choices and responsibility. Respect goes a long way, and you cannot truly respect someone if you aren't willing to be honest.
Thank you, Dr. Leap, for respecting us, for making us laugh, and for reminding us to see and treat the entire patient with honesty. Keep up the great work!
Andrea Archer, DO