I am writing because I wanted to express my concern about the medical centers across the country that perform common procedures like colonoscopies on a daily basis. While I understand that Covid has changed a lot about how one interacts with patients, I was very disappointed to be treated in the way I was prior to my colonoscopy this week.
Three years ago when I had a colonoscopy at this Center things were quite different. It was the human touch and connection that made me feel safe and secure having the procedure done. By that I mean the anesthesiologist, who was an older man, took the time to talk to me right before he put me to sleep by introducing himself a second time and making a small joke. This made me feel relaxed and safe and as if he cared about me.
Yesterday the anesthesiologist did come in and introduce herself to me in the waiting area however immediately prior to being put to sleep I was wheeled into the procedure room where no one spoke to me. My doctor didn’t speak to me, and the anesthesiologist did not speak to me. Frankly, I was looking for the anesthesiologist and I’m not even sure that she was there. Perhaps it is the practice now for the head anesthesiologist to meet the patient, take down information, and then pass this down this information to another anesthesiologist who will actually do the job. I hope not!
The feeling I had was that I was on an assembly line and merely a body on a gurney. It would have made a difference, for example, if someone had asked me how I was doing, patted my hand, and basically reassured me right before I went to sleep. Instead, when I said that the needle in my hand was hurting somebody seem to adjust it, but they didn’t say one word. I guess they felt like it didn’t matter because I would be asleep in two minutes which was true. However, perhaps they do not realize that those moments before being put to sleep are incredibly important ones and make a patient feel safe or unsafe. I felt unsafe and so that is my memory of the procedure and the treatment I received.
I understand the reasoning behind the lack of personal connection because of the fear of Covid but I think it is not right that patients don’t receive compassionate care. It’s very important for doctors not to forget that though they do 20 of these procedures a day or more, each patient is an individual deserving of compassionate attention and reassurance.
The leader sets the tone in any business. Therefore, I have taken the time to write this letter in the hopes that doctors and others who are in this position will change their style in terms of patient interaction. All it takes is a pat on the hand and a gentle statement saying that everything will be all right. Every employee who interacts with a patient should have the same compassionate approach and should take the time to make sure they are feeling comfortable. This happened at times during my procedure, but the most important time is right before one is put to sleep when anxiety is at its highest level.
Thank you for reading this and I hope that some changes are made because I think it will make a big difference in how comfortable people feel having colonoscopies performed.