According that patients will report a physician

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term “unacceptable” refers to anything that is not allowed or unsatisfactory.1 When applied to the work of a medical professional, what is deemed “unacceptable” can vary with patient expectations and experiences as is human nature. From any social outing, to important business meetings, parties can enter with conflicting expectations. It is difficult to determine where the line should be drawn. If a medical professional can cure, but not treat an illness, does this count as “unacceptable” assuming the patient in question deems this “unsatisfactory”? I was once told by a guidance counsellor, that doctors are the closest thing to God. (Of course, as per the modern text of the Hippocratic Oath, one should “not play God”2) This comment may reflect the lay-persons’ expectations of medical professionals. Does this make any failure of a physician, regardless of the quality and extent of treatment administered, “unacceptable”?While “acceptable behaviour” is quite an arbitrary concept in one sense, guidelines are in place so as to better inform both medical professionals and patients to doctor-patient interactions, thereby aiding in our determination of what is “unacceptable”. The patient is of paramount importance in any clinical setting. This is outlined in the Irish Medical Council guidelines, which places the patient at the top of a medical professionals priorities.3A study into the expectations of cancer patients from their physicians found communication to be an integral part of patient care, thereby having a major influence on the satisfaction of the patient with the treatment provided by the physician in question.4 Cancer being a disease with varied mortality rates,5 may come with a wide variety of expectations from patients. This study demonstrated the necessity of good communication in patient care as expectations should be described from both the physician’s and patient’s points of view in order to attain a better understanding of the patient’s situation,4 thus helping to bridge the gap between what one may deem to be “acceptable” or “unacceptable”. In another study,6 it was found that while patient dissatisfaction may lead to a medical practitioner being sued, poor interpersonal communication can also be a major factor in this outcome.This factor of communication does not surprise me. In a tutorial for this module (HC1002) our tutor, Dr. Claire Nolan informed us that one of the main reasons that patients will report a physician for their behaviour is in fact communication, or rather a lack thereof. It is key for medical practitioners to correctly inform patients of the nature of the care that they are about to receive, and to correctly identify the potential risks involved. While it may be easy to identify such risks, it is essential that a physician ensures that the patient has adequate knowledge so as to make an informed decision before accepting treatment. Without effective communication on the physicians part, the patient may blindly accept treatment, with little confidence in the physician, thus potentially affecting the overall outcome of the treatment.7While poor physician to patient communication is unacceptable, we must also consider the communication between physicians. Based on my own experience as a porter in a hospital, many patients have interactions with a number of different physicians. What may have began with a visit to their General Practitioner, may have resulted in a prolonged hospital stay, with numerous registrars, senior house officers and consultants administering treatment, while nurses and care assistants are omnipresent trying to make their stay as comfortable as is possible. With such a wide range of communication pathways between the healthcare staff, good communication is essential, which can be influenced by the relationships between the healthcare professionals. In pop culture it is stereotypical of a medical drama to have an element of conflict between healthcare professionals, potentially putting patients at risk due to obstruction of these essential communication pathways. It is unacceptable to allow personal matters to affect the treatment of a patient.3 Whether or not these stereotypes have been seen in current hospitals is difficult to pinpoint, although it offers food for thought regarding the interpersonal relationships of healthcare workers in the working environment and its potential effects on patient outcomes.It is clear to see that communication, a basic cornerstone of mankind, is essential in patient care. A lack of good communication among healthcare professionals is simply unacceptable, be it with patients or co-workers.Another form of unacceptable behaviour by a colleague in the healthcare profession is the abuse of drugs. In a talk I recently heard from Ms. Julliette Buckley of the Mater Private in Cork, I learned that the issue of drug abuse among medical professionals is one which precedes many modern day practices in medicine. This is evident from the cocaine addiction of William Stewart Halsted, the father of modern surgery.8 This abuse begins while studying at medical college, as many students aim to use stimulants so as to maximise academic performance.9