Medicine is a relationship between 2 people. I have my expectations, needs, and wants, and the patient has theirs.
However, the patient’s needs, wants, and expectations are more important than my own. She is the center of her health.
I will always:
• ask the patient what she wants, hopes, fears, believes to be true about her health,
• ask the patient what she prefers,
• tell the patient what options are available,
• if I am not able to do what the patient wants, explain why not, or
• ask the patient what her priorities are—whether in the moment, or in general.
I will never:
• assume that the patient wants the same things I do,
• blame the patient for their illness,
• belittle the patient for powerlessness,
• treat a patient worse than I would treat a family member, or
• check a box before I check with the patient.
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.