Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Opinion: Patients’ families are more than just ‘visitors’ | Montreal Gazette

As a medical student, I participated in a group session to demonstrate the impact of illness on families. One patient was asked to stand, given a piece of coloured thread and asked to choose a "spouse" from the group. The chosen spouse stood too, and took the string, creating a bond. This couple pretended to have children: new string colours were chosen. The children grew up and formed their own relationships until everyone was standing with connecting strings. The room became a blend of colours, the tangled network no longer decipherable.

"Imagine someone gets sick," said the facilitator, "what will happen to all the string?"

One person sat. We couldn't maintain our hold, and the web plunged downward, pulling us all toward the floor.

My sister's untimely death in 2017 reinforced this powerful lesson. But doctors shouldn't require a family crisis to understand the family's experience of health care. Health care that focuses only on the patient, and does not engage family, is woefully inadequate.

More ...

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Pediatrician’s Most Awkward Task - The Atlantic

When Carrie Quinn was training to be a pediatrician, she dutifully memorized the list of symptoms for meningitis. She learned the right antibiotics for pneumonia. But when she got into the clinic, she found herself unprepared for what actually concerned parents.

"What I was actually faced with wasn't seriously sick children," Quinn, who's now the executive director of the Mount Sinai Parenting Center, said on a panel at Aspen Ideas: Health, which is co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic. More often, it was parents anxious over what to do about their kids' behavior issues or language delays.

Ben Danielson, another panelist and the medical director of the Odessa Brown Children's Clinic in Seattle, jumped in: "You made the joke the other day that, so often, a [doctor] who finishes pediatric residency would way rather intubate a baby than talk about breastfeeding." Talking about how to parent might be one of hardest parts of being a pediatrician.

More ...