Which patients deserve empathy?
Editor’s Note: Welcome to “Eye Catching: Let's Chat,” a blog series featuring contributions from members of the ophthalmic community. These blogs are an opportunity for ophthalmic bloggers to engage with readers with about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Arun C. Gulani, MD, founding director and chief surgeon of Gulani Vision Institute, Jacksonville, FL. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of or UBM Advanstar.
Empathy, a word we reviewed in our last conversation leads us into this blog.
It was a “regular” day at my practice. Patients had landed from different states and countries, all referred by highly esteemed and very able eye surgeons for complex LASIK, cataracts, complications, previous refractive conditions, and some who had self-researched and travelled since they had been turned away with the label, “Not a Candidate.”
Surgeons and attorneys as patients characterize a regular day at my institute. That day, my morning had begun as usual—listening ardently to each patient’s story, reiterating to them that their ophthalmologists did indeed do the best they could and then making an individual surgical plan for their vision recovery.
Among these was an attorney patient who had traveled from Texas to see me following complication of her previous surgery and had associated radial keratotomy with LASIK surgery, Fuchs dystrophy, and cataract with changing vision, along with high ammetropia and irregular astigmatism.
In my typical fashion, I personally evaluated her, refracted, and checked all the diagnostics to review her options, including guarded prognosis.
Most patients we see are happily shocked to see a doctor sitting down for such a long time with each one of them and earnestly discussing with them and their family in detail regarding their options, without any pressure for surgery or financial gains. Therefore, I was surprised when this patient at the end of my extensive review, uttered the words “I'm not sure I want to proceed.”