Tag Archives: listening

Just shut up and listen!

25 Mar

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by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    March 25, 2018

A Heart Sisters article that I first ran here five years ago is called When Are Cardiologists Going to Start Talking About Depression? 

As you can imagine, it’s a serious subject. And it’s an important subject, given how common – yet pervasively overlooked – the situational depression associated with heart disease is. A freshly-diagnosed heart patient who becomes depressed is not only miserable, but this is a person who’s significantly less likely to take meds, exercise, eat heart-healthy foods, quit smoking, follow medical instructions – and is generally at significant risk for poor cardiac outcomes.

Dozens of my readers shared their moving and vulnerable stories about their experiences in response to this post. For example, this comment from a reader named Christie, sent to me nine days after her husband survived a heart attack:  Continue reading

Is your doctor paying attention?

11 Feb

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

When Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Mary O’Connor published her compelling essay called The Woman Patient: Is Her Voice Heard?“, she raised some frightening questions, particularly for those of us carrying the XX chromosomes.  Examples of what she calls the medical profession’s unconscious bias” against female patients include:

  • women are 22 times less likely to be referred for knee replacement surgery compared to men presenting with the same symptoms and diagnoses
  • girls on pediatric kidney transplant lists are 22% less likely to get a new kidney compared to boys
  • women in their 50s and younger are seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed and sent home from Emergency compared to their male counterparts of the same age presenting with comparable heart attack symptoms(1)

But perhaps the most disturbing lesson was the pervasive sense that somehow docs are just not getting it, and worse, that this “unconscious bias” is affecting medical decision-making – and even doctors’ ability to pay attention. Continue reading

Just not listening – or “narrative incompetence”?

22 Mar

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

The Radical EarI’ve been reading lately about something called the patient’s narrative in medicine. Although it’s basically defined as patients telling the story of what originally brought them to see the doctor, it’s actually much more.

Doctors, for example, all too often may see “the story” as an unnecessarily lengthy distraction from getting swiftly to diagnosis and treatment.

But as U.K. physician Dr. Jeff Clark describes it, connecting with and understanding the patient requires a doctor to appreciate each person’s unique perspective. In the December 2008 issue of The British Journal of General Practice, he asked other doctors to consider how not listening to a patient’s story can be compared to his colleague’s golf game:  Continue reading