By Kodey Toney
The King of Bedside Manner
I recently saw a post on a friend's Facebook asking advice about her doctor. She said her child's physician had used the "r" word and she was disappointed that he would use that word in any capacity. It ended with a future visit when the doctor exclaimed, "You have a problem," and then told her daughter that she was "crazy" and "militant."
I was reminded of this thread as I read that May 17 was the 60th anniversary of Brown vs. the Board of Education. Of course this ruling was to insure equality among races in schools, but I think it was much more than that. It was another step toward equality for everyone despite race, age, sex, religion, and ability.
While we've come a long way we still have a long way to go in all aspects of equality.
National Public Radio (NPR) had an article recently about how people with disabilities tend to be overlooked in medical situations and emergency rooms. The doctors are passing up the individuals with disabilities because the doctors just don't want to "deal with" the patients. One nurse was even quoted as saying, "We drew the short straw here," when she had to care for a man who uses a wheelchair. The resident said, "...let's just get this started."
The article goes on to state that nearly 20 percent of Americans have a disability, and that less than 20 percent of medical schools teach their students how to talk to their patients with disabilities.
When I was in Partners in Policymaking I remember a presenter ask us, "out of the many years of schooling a doctor receives to practice medicine, how much time do you think is spent on learning about (developmental disabilities)?"
The answer was less than 15 minutes. The medical professionals are rarely or scarcely taught proper bed-side manner when it comes to those with disabilities.
The NPR article goes on to state, "Numerous studies have found people with disabilities receive inferior health care, including less information about prevention and fewer screening tests."
The good news is that several medical schools have implemented programs to help those with disabilities receive better health care.
I think this needs to be provided for all healthcare professionals.
There is no reason anyone should be discriminated, especially for their disability.
Though the mama-bear instinct probably kicked in it was not unreasonable for my friend to expect her doctor to have some compassion and consideration for the patients he treats. If he is relaxed in his bed-side manner, to me, that shows a lack of respect for those he cares for, and I'm not sure I would trust him with my child's healthcare.