What Makes A Doctor-Patient Relationship

Power

Image by JAS_photo via Flickr

In our last post, The Struggle in A Doctor-Patient Relationship To Not Get Personal, your comments were critical to bringing it all together.  So much so, that I think it’s worth our time to review the main points about the doctor-patient relationship.

1.  People wonder about how to relate or conduct themselves.  It’s not clear and there are no directions.  In fact, for something so objective, why isn’t it?

  • a subject I have often wondered about – Cindy Taylor
  • when I see the new Doc, I just tell my story and describe symptoms????  – Sekan Blogger
  • hope that those professionals would be much more upfront with their patients – Nancy

2.  The professional distance itself between doctor and patient lends to the healing process

  • The doctor patient relationship is one thing that makes healing possible – Pattyann
  • if friends could help me I wouldn’t need to see a professional… – Patricia
  • distance …is such a strength – Kate Shrewsday
  • something far more greater than what a friend could provide and if I knew the intimate details of her life, that would have changed – S Sanquist

3.  The exchange of money for service is generally part of its constitution and brings motives into question.  Is there a price for the value of a patient’s health or even life?

  • You better keep me alive or there will be less money for you to make – Carl D’Agostino

4.  Power Imbalance

  • health professionals and I are not on the same social level when I am the patient and they are my health provider – Val
  • It (is) a loss to move from friend to patient. That is just how it has to go in the self-care process. Then there is the anxiety of the Dr. discovering who you really are and perhaps being disappointed. – M
  • same fine line in the teaching profession – Sarah McGaugh
  • most of my relationships have some sort of power imbalance – Shout Abyss

In truth, all relationships have an imbalance of power.  In healthy personal relationships, there is a flux in power, back and forth.  It’s a problem if they don’t pulse and is possibly one of the signs of an abusive relationship.

However, this doesn’t hold true in doctor-patient combos.  They are imbalanced by design and stay that way.  It feels counterintuitive at times to those involved.  But a good physician is like a good book – he/she/it is there for Me.  It is a unidirectional relationship.  There aren’t many good unidirectional relationships otherwise, …except for all those others.  You’ve heard of police, cashier’s, housekeepers, entertainers or, for example as Sarah reminded us, teachers.  But these are professional relationships and none of these are personal either, are they?  Unless you’re human, and then they are.  Oh bother!

Self-Care Tip – Find out what pleases you and what bothers you about your doctor-patient relationships.

Question:  What does please you and what does bother you about your doctor-patient relationships?  How do you imagine it would be if it were even better for your needs?  Please tell us your story.