I hate going over what I have already written.
I guess part of the problem is that I have written so much that it is impossible for most people to have read everything (except perhaps some close family and Freda).
Well, it came to me this morning.
Actually, it is something I hear most days.
Sure, sounds innocuous, yet it goes to the very core of my approach to care and being a doctor.
It is the person-centred is-ness of who a person is.
Is the person with the disease or the disease with the person?
Is it patient with Covid or, Covid with a patient?
I can guarantee if you listen-in to the news, any current affairs programme or likely any NHS management meeting, the latter will be the term used.
The hospital is full of Covid patients, we can’t cope with more Covid patients in A&E, the number of Covid patients occupying hospital beds is…
An so it goes.
This approach to person-centred care, where we have the person, the individual with all that is good and bad associated with them at the very core of our actions is also directly linked with a person’s own mental health and wellbeing.
In the field of Mindfulness, if you ask Jon Kabat-Zinn, ‘Who are you?’ His response will relate to all this is his past, his present and his future; the infinitesimal moments, shades, gestures, ups, downs and quirks that are a person’s entire being.
You might be anxious or depressed or worried.
This is an experience in the moment; you are bigger, better and more complex.
People are never good, bad, nasty or nice; there are always nuances, complexities.
And so too with health.
What part of the person has Covid?
What percentage of their bodily mass is Covid?
How many cells?
People say there are more bacteria in our gut than cells in our body; I am not sure how true this is – I don’t think I am ready to say I am faeces.
When you see the disease; diabetic patient, cancer patient, or you move into even more functional terms, ‘the appendix’ the ‘blocked LCA’ you are in trouble.
No matter the skill of the technician, if you remove the art, the human from the interaction, everything is diminished.
You might say, so what?
Let’s not worry about Covid this or that.
There are bigger fish to fry.
You see, once you let these small things slip, once you overlook the subtleties of language you are in trouble.
Another old blog talks about the poem by the Late Heathcote Williams – Mokusatsu, which describes the risk of imprecise language,
‘A hundred and seventy-five thousand people
Either stood about in helpless confusion
Or were turned into radioactive dust’
I’m not suggesting that the wrong way around of a couple of words is the direct cause of a disaster, yet we know that all bad things, all slips in standards start somewhere; the Swiss-Cheese of clinical error has an original hole.
So, let’s tidy-up our language.
Let’s move from
Patient with Covid
*Rod, who has Covid
Rod who has Covid, has a black and white dog…
And so on.
*Thankfully, I still haven’t caught Covid