I picked up the chart of a very nice little old lady who fell on the ice and broke her arm.

When I walked in the room, her husband said “Oh good! He’s the best doctor here.”
I thanked him for his compliment and went about treating her injury. All three of us joked back and forth and it was overall a very pleasant interaction for everyone involved.

It just so happened that the patient’s daughter works at our hospital. She wrote me a quick e-mail thanking me for taking such good care of her mom. She also stated that her dad doesn’t like many people, but he took a liking to me after I treated him for pneumonia a couple of years back. He didn’t remember a thing about my examination, what medications I gave him, or what I said to him. Know what the only thing he remembered about me was?

I was that doctor who went and got him a couple of warm blankets when he was having chills – and I tucked in his feet to keep him warm.

People won’t remember how good of a doctor you are, but they will always remember how you made them feel.


  1. My 72 year old mom goes through doctors like a Democrat through a trillion dollars. Whenever I ask how the new doctor is, she never comments on whether or not the doc is competent or thorough, only on how he spoke to her or treated her. Inevitably, when she leaves that doc, it is because “He doesn’t care.”

    Drives me nuts. And worries me.

  2. it’s the little acts of kindness that frightened patients remember.

  3. Like I say, “Treat ’em like family.”

  4. I’ve never seen a doc do that…..good for you. Like George in Seinfeld, my presonal preference is no tuck :)

  5. Dr. Whitecoat Thank you. You are truly a caring doctor. Now, what ED do you work in….? :)

  6. This is so true. I went to the ER a couple years ago with abdominal pain. (Turned out to be a small bowel obstruction; I ended up having surgery.) What I remember about the ER visit was that the first nurse left me alone and shivering without any pain meds in a room for an hour. Then I was saved by a shift change. The new nurse wrapped blankets around me and gave me something for the pain.

    I remember absolutely nothing about the doctor who presumably diagnosed me. I don’t even remember if it was a man or a woman. I remember only the nurse who left me to suffer, and the other nurse who relieved my suffering.

  7. The old saw is quite true…..”People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

  8. So very true!

    I had a similar experience like Amy.

    It was post-op in SDS. It was not a good day and I ended up being admitted. I had a lot of work done that day. Was having kidney spasms post-op. I don’t know why it happened ..but I had leakage and was wet under me. It was obvious to the nurses and wet to me.

    This one young nurse walked in ..saw the situation ..looked at me and walked away. I really felt her indifference I wasn’t worth the effort. On top of the pain, etc ..I felt cast aside. i was hurt and insulted. I would never do that to anyone. if I couldn’t help ..then I would get someone who could.

    Anyway ..a while later an older nurse came by ..saw it, commented it should be changed and did it herself.

    Another post-op experience ..but after admitted ..the nurse left me sitting up on my bed which was crooked and the room hadn’t been finished. It was 6:30 at night and I had been NPO since midnight. I was sore, tired and hungry.

    I politely asked for something to eat and drink and Pyridium because I was in pain. (I know pharmacy can take a while) Mr SeaSpray and I were waiting for her to comeback like she said she would and after awhile I asked him to check. He said she was just hanging out at the station laughing and talking with other nurses.

    She never came in.

    About a half hr after change of shift another nurse came in and wanted to know why I was left like that. She immediately began fixing the bed and got me food,drink and meds. the whole time she was getting me situated …she kept saying “This isn’t right. This isn’t right.”

    Guess which nurses I respect.

    Fortunately, most med staff are courteous, compassionate and professional. but every now and then you get a bad one ..and it is just so wrong put a sick, compromised patient in the unnecessary position of having to handle negative consequences both emotionally and physically because of an indifferent and uncaring employee.

    Tomorrow I will be having similar things done at a surgery ctr ..and the care from the staff is stellar and none of that would e-v-e-r happen.

    WC –You are such a thoughtful doctor. :)

    I used to love getting the warm blankets for the ED pts when staff was tied up. Patients are so grateful. :)

  9. Very true. I think that can apply to every kind of relationship.

  10. Reminds me of when I was a kid. My sister was in the ED for what turned out to be a separated hip after a fall from a horse. A triage nurse snorted disdainfully and told her, “That will teach you to get up on horses!” before sending her out to the waiting room.

    In the waiting room, one of the nurses noticed that my sister was sheet-white, shaking and tears were running down her cheeks from the pain. She got my sister a couple cushions to relieve the pressure from her hip a bit, a blanket and some painkillers. It was going to be a long wait, she told us (there’d been a six-car pileup on a nearby highway and so most of their resources were devoted to dealing with people who were in far worse shape than my sister), but if there was anything she could do to help, we just had to ask.

    The bad medical professionals out there aren’t worth the cloth their work clothes are made of. The good ones, on the other hand, are worth a thousand times their weight in gold. Compassion and basic human decency go a long way toward making a person one of the good ones, I think.

  11. There’s a guy in my group that everyone likes- but that’s because he always doles out the Percocet Rx’s to the drug seekers to increase his patient satisfaction scores.

  12. Attending to a patient’s care, comfort and pain relief is the easiest way to excellent patient satisfaction. Of course the opposite is also true. To ignore, demean, or fail to address these patient concerns is the fast-track to being known as one of the worst.

    Practice the “Me or My Mom” rule of medical care- order evaluations and prescribe treatments you’d want for yourself or your family given the same situation.

    FYI- any “Attendings” out there that tend not to “attend” to their patient’s needs- you are missing the mark.

    Having seen medicine from both sides- as physician and as patient- I am amazed how obvious and distasteful provider indifference is to patients. The second an uncaring physician or nurse enters the room- patients and families can instantly see, feel, and accurately read that attitude.

    When I experienced this as a patient, I wanted to scream at the deficient sap to immediately turn around, leave my room and never return.

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