I had a patient (details changed to de-identify) some time ago who, when I asked him how he was feeling, responded, "Pretty fucking awful."
He saw a copy of the note and was upset, not because he was ashamed of his language, but because he was taken aback that a doctor would use such language in a note.
I explained to him that I always try to record what a patient says to me, since that conveys useful information. He was mollified.
Zackary Berger, MD, ACP Member, is a primary care doctor and general internist in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins. His research interests include doctor-patient communication, bioethics, and systematic reviews. He is also a poet, journalist and translator in Yiddish and English. This post originally appeared at his blog.