Creating Waves of Awareness
A boy, aged 7, was under my treatment for his Atopic Dermatitis. He had already consulted me three or four times, and was regularly taking my medicines. Meanwhile, he had an acute fever, for which he was brought by his parents for an urgent consultation at my residence. In a hurry, they had forgotten to take the registration card. They were very familiar to me; still, I could not remember the name of that boy.
Just for the sake of record keeping, I had to ask his name even though I was little reluctant to do so. (Asking the name of a familiar person is a little difficult). Believe me friends, the reply from the child was a sudden shock to me. “Doctor, you can’t even remember my name, then how can you remember the diseases and medicines?” he asked. Yes, it was my mistake, I had to admit it. We often go through the case paper before the patient enters the cabin just to greet them. But, I could not apply this trick, since I had no paper case with me. But, thereafter I always try to remember the name of the patient first. And needless to tell you, now his name can’t be forgotten, because he was the one who inspired me!
William Shakespeare’s famous quote "What is there in the name," indirectly says that the name is not so important. But, we, medical practitioners must give great importance to the name. ‘Name’ is the first step of our case taking. A long case taking without the name of the patient is of no use! If we don’t remember the symptoms of the patients, it is tolerable, but at least we must remember the name of the patient. It can even force the patient to say goodbye from one particular physician. In the business field, also, remembering the name is very important.
The feeling we get when somebody calls by our name is different, because we feel more intimate to that person. When I started my practice under the late Dr Sasidharan, we had one case of a middle-aged man having allergic bronchitis. A few months ago, the same patient consulted me. The moment he entered my cabin, I greeted him by calling his name. He could not recognize me and he was really surprised to know that I still remembered his name even after 12 years. His unique name and his peculiar nature some how recorded inside my ‘hard disc.’ I could recollect this person on the spot. But this may not always happen. After all, we are human beings.
The inspiration I got from our surgery professor Dr G M Khan, sir, is noteworthy. During my internship, I used to visit his clinic during my free time. The way he used to communicate with the patient was really impressive. He knew the name of each and every person in the family and their jobs. I have noticed many patients discuss the family matters with sir and he used to give suggestions, also. Dr Kasim Chimthanawala’s unique method of case taking is another method that has inspired me. Each and every patient is asked to maintain a daily record that has to be submitted during each visit. By this method, the whole individual picture is presented to the physician and the patient develops a rapport with the physician. The list of people who inspired me never ends here.
Different ways to remember the names of our patients:
· Do not always depend only on the case paper. We must be in a position to handle the case even when the case paper is missing. We must identify the patient even when we receive a phone call from them.
· When the patient goes out of the cabin, try to remember by heart the name of the patient and diagnosis (both disease and remedial diagnosis). It will be an extra benefit if we remember the investigations done (or else, we will again suggest MRI for a person who has already done the same last time).
· Try to remember the name of all family members and try to connect each name, one after the other.
· Try to connect the name of the patient with another known person, material or event. Yesterday I had one patient named Navneet. Now I won't forget his name since I connected his name with my friend Dr Navneet Bidani.
· Mnemonics can also be used for the same purpose.
In contemporary days, the family doctors are becoming an endangered species, due to the over importance to the concept of specialization. Hence, we should make use of this opportunity.
There are hundreds of websites dealing with the tips to remember the names of people.
Copyright with Dr Muhammed Rafeeque.