What About Doctors, Clinics, Waiting Rooms?

Seems to me that nowadays therapy doesn’t begin until you get into the Doctor’s room.

I mean it is not out there in the waiting room. Is it? Ever sat in a hard chair with nothing to do and can’t go away for even five minutes and with some physical discomfort – for half an hour, an hour, an hour and a half?

In a doctor’s waiting room? I have. And I know, of course, many others have. Why ‘of course’ ? Well they were all around me, waiting, as I waited.

And many is the time I’ve seen them waiting and declined to join the queue, gone away till another day. My illnesses not being so immediately critical.

Yes. Not ‘therapeutic’. Not at all. Quite the opposite if anything.

And that’s not to mention the queue before the encounter with the ‘receptionists’ and the actual encounter. Intimidating, wearying, annoying and downright aggravating as they can often turn out to be.

Why not? Why not therapeutic?

It seems the attitude the medical profession nowadays believes that their Hippocratic oath to dispense therapy is satisfied by dispensing a ten minutes (timed, planned ‘consultation’) face to face with a patient.

The conditions the patient waits in, the environment the patient comes from, goes to, is none of their concern apparently. Today.

I just found today’s ‘modern Hippocratic Oath’ . Apparently there’s a number them.

A Modern Version of the Hippocratic Oath

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

The modern version of the Hippocratic Oath was written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University.

I particularly like these paragraphs as they seem to me to point to what is missing in to day’s waiting rooms and general attitude of the medical profession :

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

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