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How Do Surgeons Interact With Patients?

Physicians or surgeons, in particular, get a lot of flack for being the bearer of bad news. They are seen in TV shows and movies looming next to a patient’s bed or busting out of the OR, ready to deliver an update whether it be a positive or a negative one. But telling a person or their loved ones about the outcome of an operation isn’t as simple nor is it as easy as many would imagine. A healthcare provider cannot just walk into a room and talk about a patient’s procedure without putting much thought or consideration into how the recipient will take the information.

For this purpose, it is important that surgeons interact with patients properly. In the medical arena having a good bedside manner is essential. Not only is it crucial pre-operation, but it’s also even more important post-op to help with patient recovery. There is a misconception that consultations between a patient and any other healthcare expert is the same. This is in fact, incorrect because consultations between a patient and a primary care physician versus one with a surgeon are entirely different.

Bedside manner: what is it?

Interacting and delivering news to a patient is a skill that not all medical practitioners are born with. For this reason, it is important for many to hone these skills. Known commonly as “bedside manner” this practice is taught to medical students by the most experienced professionals in the industry.

Along with the ever-changing developments and techniques in diagnosis and treatment procedures that healthcare providers must learn, they must as well constantly improve on their bedside skills. Since it is not uncommon for a patient to be afraid, anxious, or displaying self-pity during a consultation or even before an operation, it is, therefore, the surgeon’s responsibility to ensure that their patient’s worries are appeased, while providing the person with hope. Any well-experienced surgeon has a bedside manner that is compassionate, supportive, humane, and empathetic.

Simply put, bedside manner refers to the way a doctor approaches a patient or his overall attitude towards a patient. Over the years, a lot of emphases has been given to improving the way the medical industry interacts in a professional yet empathetic manner. According to data gathered, improvements should focus on three primary ideas, these are: prioritizing patient welfare, proficiency, and impartiality. It must be clarified that professionalism is not put in place in order to protect the status of the physician, rather it is to ensure that a general practitioner or a surgeon practices medicine with the best interest of the patient in mind.

Engaging with the patient and taking the time to properly explain what is going to happen is included in good bedside manner. Note that this should be delivered in a way that is easily understood by a person or persons who are not adept with medical terms or procedures. It cannot be stressed how important it is to provide a detailed explanation, not to mention ensuring that the physician receives consent before performing any exam or medical procedure.

Importance of surgeon interaction with patients

Surgeons do not always get a chance to interact with their patients, not counting the somewhat lucid conversations that could occur once the general anesthesia kicks in. Often an exchange between a surgeon and a patient is brief and involves answering any questions he may have regarding the procedure.

Building patient trust

Getting scheduled for an operation can be scary, even if it is only a minor one. Bear in mind that there are complications that could arise during a surgical procedure or after one. And for many first-time patients, it can be an extremely stressful and frightening experience. In order to ease their mind as well as their family’s concerns, surgeons must be on hand to answer any queries related to the surgery. Along with this, surgeons can build a good rapport that would lead to a trusting relationship.

Helping patients understand their diagnosis

Primary physicians are generally tasked with delivering the diagnosis to their patients. Sometimes there are medical conditions that are beyond the general practitioner’s knowledge, thus a diagnostician becomes in charge of explaining the health concern. When surgical intervention is required, having a surgeon expound on the upcoming treatment in terms easily understood by everyday folk helps them be less worried about it. Furthermore, it can help them decide on which treatment option to choose when several are made available.

Providing support to both the patient and the loved ones

Since the surgeon is the medical expert who can provide all the details regarding any preparations that a patient or family members must adhere to prior to surgery, as well as what is to be expected after. Surgical operations always contain risks and laying down all these possibilities can help everyone understand fully what is in store. Their expertise can eliminate any misinformation or misgivings they may have. With the right approach, a surgeon is one of the best healthcare practitioners who can provide support.

Offering post-surgery aftercare

The work of a surgeon doesn’t end after the last suture is set in place. Many types of invasive operations require constant monitoring. Small concerns such as the stitches coming undone can be handled by the assigned surgeon. Additionally, surgeons with amazing bedside manners can provide useful and informative knowledge on how to best care for a person who is recovering from an operation.

What happens when a surgeon lacks patient interaction?

Maintaining good communication with a patient has shown to affect their health positively. Because trust is one of the building blocks in a patient-physician relationship, it is vital that both parties work together to reach a common goal. And the goal is to work towards optimal health, especially once the procedure is completed.

Studies have shown that the trust built between a healthcare provider, like a  surgeon and his patient – has proven to be more crucial than their satisfaction with the treatment or procedure. Without proper patient interaction and a severe lack of bedside manner, the chances of encouraging the patient to continue on with their care provider are smaller. This lack of rapport could encourage a patient to switch services thus causing the hospital to lose a valued client.

A lack of communication can cause patients to doubt the physician, the facility, and even their own capacity to recover from the malaise that plagues them. Healing after all is a combination of care and the positive attitude a patient has towards getting better. It is not enough to provide a treatment option, having all those involved actively communicate to reach a positive outcome can produce amazing results.

Communication is the key

Surgeons have for a very long time, had a bad reputation. They have always been seen as cold, arrogant, and emotionless medical practitioners (aka the jerks of the industry). Externally they seem aloof but in reality, they are just as empathetic and caring as the other professionals in the medical field. To a certain degree, they do exude a steely appearance but this can be attributed to their determination and focus to perform surgical operations perfectly.

Nonetheless, beneath their cool demeanor surgeons are just as capable of interacting with their patients. Their calm and precise nature can help regulate the emotions felt by patients and their families. Experienced surgeons can communicate medical information that’s easily comprehensible to the average folk. Through regular patient interaction, surgeons can help identify the needs of the hospital patient.

For the longest time, patients who have experienced amazing interactions with a healthcare provider have been seen to be more satisfied with their overall care. Even more so, these individuals are more likely to provide pertinent info that could result in a diagnosis of their health concern that is more accurate than a patient who does not get ample interaction. Those who are constantly receiving communication with their doctor, nurse, or surgeon tend to follow and adhere to the treatment prescribed as well as any after-care instructions.

In conclusion

Communication between the physician or surgeon and patient will always be a major factor contributing to health care processes. Physicians have historically been in a unique position where they are revered and respected. Because of the power they wield, it has always been the belief of many that doctors are able to influence the health of a patient. Thus, interactions a surgeon can provide a patient can be a fundamental source of motivation.

When established correctly, patient and doctor relationships can boost work satisfaction and at the same time fortify the confidence that a worried patient drastically needs. In effect, whenever surgeons take the time to interact with a patient their motivation can influence the status of their health and the outcome of a procedure.

Over time, the majority of complaints about surgeons have been related to their bedside manner or more accurately, their lack of interaction with patients. There has never been any doubt about their surgical competency, but their communication skills do require some work. Ask any person, and they will tell you that they will always choose a surgeon who can assuage any doubts in a manner that is calm and reassuring over one who is just eager to go in and start cutting. Hands down, any surgeon who has perfected their people skills will go farther than one who prefers to recite medical terms that would leave a patient baffled.

Resources:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/ans.12126

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13126-020-0556-5

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