Would it not be advantageous for people fighting what I call the “vile coward” to take a break from its ugly face? With nothing but the best intentions in mind, I hereby proclaim that all patients have permission to take a vacation from cancer, to schedule a time where cancer is not allowed in the door.
Craig R. Hildreth, MD
I confess that I have never taken chemotherapy. Strictly speaking this disqualifies me from commenting any further, so I should sign off now. If, however, you don’t mind hearing from one who has administered chemotherapy by the thousands and can bear witness to its effects, then please read on.
Of all the sad pronouncements that oncologists deliver, this may be the one that stings the most. If you were expecting hope from your doctor, how would you react to these words? Would you sit with quiet disbelief, or storm out of the office?
All those who walk through your doorway become your responsibility, at least until you either cure them, satisfy them, or in the rare case of incorrigibles, banish them. Opening our office to all comers is part of every doctor's commitment to the sick, and the faster we accept this, the smoother our day will proceed. Sometimes, though, it ain’t easy.
The end of another year usually inspires us to interesting if not profound reflections, but in my case I am just trying to remember any rainbows of wisdom that appeared to me during 2011. Those who care for cancer patients cannot help but learn new insights about life and death, and since aphorisms are valuable only if spread, why not share a few?
As insurers, clinicians and the U.S. government attempt to slow the increasing rise of health care costs, many experts have identified the tool entitled “clinical pathways” as a solution. Oncologists who adhere to such pathways are thought to improve patient care and reduce expenses.
We are seeing a revolution in cancer care in this country, not just due to advances in chemotherapy and biological therapy, but also in how we communicate and connect with our patients.
I believe cancer doctors have a duty to be accessible to patients as much as possible. Taking treatment for cancer is to say the least an intense experience, sometimes an ordeal, and oncologists must be diligent in keeping everyone up to date on test results, logistics, complications, on good news as well as bad.
We can all agree that communication skills are essential to quality cancer care. Oncologists are expected to explain complex situations clearly. Be on the lookout for doctors who say any of these—it could be a sign that they need an attitude adjustment.
Over half of all US physicians will be sued for malpractice at some point in their career. Every goody two-shoes knows how to avoid that: be kind and compassionate, yada, yada, yada. Here we reverse the scenario and reveal 15 highly effective habits that, in the face of a bad outcome, might inspire patients to give a personal injury lawyer your address.