Heart Of The Matter: Treating The Disease Instead Of The Person
by Leana Wen, MD
June 25, 2014
… As soon as they get home, they file a complaint with hospital about their terrible experience.
All told, it took only 22 minutes from the time the man entered the hospital for the cardiology team to clear the blockage. The cardiology team is proud that they beat the national average for what they call door-to-balloon time by 42 minutes. The faster a blockage can be cleared, the better the odds are for a full recovery.
The patient gets well without complications. Two weeks later, he’s back at work and exercising again. The ER and cardiology teams consider the man’s case a resounding success.
Why then are there such different views of the same ER visit? Who’s right?
The doctors who believe they delivered exemplary care, or the patient and his wife who feel he was treated badly?
The two viewpoints of this ER visit end with one thing in common.
Just as the providers were surprised by the patient’s complaint, the patient and his wife were taken aback when the team that I was part of presented them with their doctors’ point of view.
“We had no idea they were trying so hard,” the man said. “It’s too bad we didn’t know that at the time.”
Wen is an attending physician and director of patient-centered care research in the Department of Emergency Medicine at George Washington University.
She is the author of “When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Care,” and founder of Who’s My Doctor, a project to encourage transparency in medicine.