Dear Future Physician,
I’m going to say thanks in advance because more than likely you’ll run across me or someone like me during you career.
Here are some rules to follow and some advice from a patient you might encounter.
1. I know it’s Halloween and there are lots of people in the ER with various injuries from the nights festivities. I know you would rather be at home with your own family. But, when an 8 year old girl comes in with a suspected broken femur from a mere slip. Be patient with her when she doesn’t want you to touch her.
2. With that same girl, on that same evening, when you get her X-Ray back and confirm that her femur is shattered, don’t assume anything about her or her family.
3. Also, when the radiologist looks at the X-Ray and sees the “cyst” on her X-Ray, do the biopsy to confirm that it is in fact benign. You are NOT God. You can’t tell by looking at it.
4. When said girl is in traction for the next three and a half weeks, talk to her when you do rounds, not her parents. She is your actual patient.
5. When you finally do get around to asking her how she is feeling and she says "with her fingers", don’t roll your eyes. She was trying to engage you in a bit of conversation.
6. When she comes back to start physical therapy to re-learn how to walk and complains that it hurts too badly. NEVER CALL HER A WHINER. Ask her what she is feeling.
7. When after 3 sessions her leg re-breaks and you see her cyst is now the size of a football. Look her parents in the eyes and admit that you made a big mistake.
8. Be honest from the start. Don’t lie and say it won’t hurt when it will.
9. Do not read the medical consent forms out loud to the parents with the patient in the room. The whole part about possibly dying while in surgery will scare her and make her cry.
10. Most importantly. Treat her, as you would want your daughter or son or mother or father treated. Remember how frightened you were when you got shots or stitches. Do not break your patients trust. If you don’t know, be honest about it, they’ll respect you more.
Thank you for making this decision, someone like me needs you.
Kati G. age 27
DX Ewings Sarcoma, amputation due to misdiagnosis at onset of disease.