No matter where you practice medicine, if your duties include patient care then you are going to interact with other oncologists. In some cases you may question the quality of their care. Help your peers to become better physicians by respecting them first, then relaying your concerns to them. Here are some examples of how not to do it, paired with kinder, gentler alternatives.
Rebecca Bechhold, MD
I recently spoke with someone who works for a hospital-based oncology clinic in another state. I am alarmed about the way the practice is structured. There the patient is never treated on the day they see the doctor. That means the patient must make at least two trips for every treatment. But I am told by others that this is standard.
Finding personal interests to discuss with your patient won’t make it all better. but it only takes a moment to find a sliver of common ground, something to make you two humans trying to fix a problem.
No matter how much education my staff and I participate in, we will never cover every single possible adverse event that an individual may experience. And in some cases, when a patient can't explain their symptoms, we can be at a loss as to how to help them.
How do you know your patients are cancer-free? Often hard to answer and often asked with a note of fear suggesting they don't really want to know the answer.
Some of the most brilliant physicians I have known have impressed me with their respect for colleagues. They would never express a difference of opinion by denigrating another practitioner, but recent experiences have opened my eyes to the arrogance of some physicians.
One of the most important questions I ask new patients is what they do for a living, as it opens up a discussion of how important that work is to them.
I do not want politicians passing laws to tell us how to practice. The legislative process cannot keep pace with changes in medicine.
Multiple lines of therapy in stage IV tumors have diminishing benefit, and this is where patients and families need to know that the finish line is the same.
A study was done that showed a video of patients with advanced Alzheimer disease to newly diagnosed dementia patients. Those who watched the videos were far more likely to make decisions against feeding tubes or other aggressive interventions. In this age of GoPro cameras and video capabilities on nearly every phone, are we behind the times?