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Doctor Patient Relationships In Medicine

May 4, 2008
This is the sort of relationship and interaction that is a central and very necessary process in the practice of medicine. The patient must be able to trust his or her physician's expertise and knowledge. There are many points of view from which to understand this kind of relationship.

From the somewhat idealized perspective of the physician, which is taught in the majority of medical schools, he or she sees the core aspects of their profession as the physician learning the patient's symptoms, the patient's basic concerns and whatever values the patient may have. The physician then examines the patient, interprets the symptoms stated to him or her, and then gives a diagnosis to explain the symptoms and their cause, or causes, to the patient; and then he or she decides upon a course of treatment.

The job of a physician is basically to know the structure of the human body and how the body appears when it is normal and healthy and when it is not. Once the physician knows what is normal and can measure the patient's symptoms against the basic norms, then he or she can determine how far from the normal operation of a healthy state of being the patient has become. This is called the diagnosis.

The four basic cornerstones of diagnostic medicine are pathology, physiology, psychology, and anatomy. Any physician should always consider a patient in their idea healthy state of being rather and not just as a living breathing medical condition. This means the the patient should be thought of in the context of who they are and what is going on in their lives and it should be assessed as it offers important clues to the patient's condition and could suggest an appropriate path of treatment.

The patient generally presents a set of symptoms to the physician, who then looks for other information about the patient's symptoms, as well as inquires into the patient's previous state of health, home life, etc. The physician then makes a inquiry into other issues. These are generally questions about weight loss, respiratory difficulties, etc. Then comes the actual physical examination and, most usually, lab tests; such as drawing blood, urine samples, etc. The findings are recorded, investigated, and are used to help formulate a diagnosis.

The quality of the relationship is of extreme importance to both doctor and patient. The better the relationship is in terms of mutual respect, knowledge, trust, etc., then the better the relationship will be. The quality, and honesty, of information about the patient's disease should be discussed openly in both directions, thus enhancing the accuracy of the diagnosis and improving the patient's insight about the disease. When such a relationship has been poorly developed the physician's ability to make a good and accurate diagnosis is compromised and the patient is more likely to refuse the diagnosis and treatment. In these circumstances getting a second opinion from another doctor may be a suitable alternative or the patient may decide to see another doctor.

In some settings, such as a hospital, the patient-physician relationship is a bit more complex. Many people are involved when a loved one is ill seriously injured. You may have relatives, neighbors, rescue workers, nurses, lots of technical personnel, and a host of other medical professionals. In this situation one has no choice but to put their trust in the hands of the medical staff there to help them.
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