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Is Patient Engagement really just one simple question?

After reading this article by Dr. Mitch Kaminski in the Washington Post, it’s hard to argue the validity.

This is a great reminder to all Medical Practitioners that asking your patient a simple question like, “what are your goals for care”, can work wonders.

This may seem like common sense, but Doctors are wired to find a “fix” to a problem, necessitating more and more tests and medication. For some patients, like the elderly man in this article, more tests and/or medication would not “fix” his problems.

Going against his natural instinct as a Doctor to “fix” the problem, he simply asked his patient, “what are your goals for care and how can I help?”. Had he not, this elderly man most likely would have been hospitalized, subjected to more tests and procedures which would have inevitably been in vain. His most important “last wish” of being able to die at home would certainly have been in jeopardy.

Instead, because this Doctor thought about the Patient’s wants first, he was able to die peacefully at home with no more falls, as he wished. When it comes to “end of life” decisions, I think we would all agree that we should have more control over the circumstances, if at all possible.

Recently, the topic of “What is Patient Engagement, Really?” has been much discussed & debated in Medical circles and beyond. I believe this story epitomizes the answer to that question .

-TheFrustratedPt (Twitter)