The doctor-patient relationship in reverse

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 05 January 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:58
  1. Waqas Ullah, senior house officer (
  1. cardiology, Royal Brompton Hospital, London

    The doctor-patient relationship is a one-sided one in terms of positive outcomes. As doctors our role is to take on our patients' problems and provide solutions for them. In the context of working in the NHS, because we are salaried our return for our work is for our services in general rather than a result of individual doctor-patient relationships. Of course, other more nebulous gains come out of each encounter, such as occasional expressions of gratitude and experiences of moral satisfaction, but the one directional nature of the individual relationships remains, and this is what is drummed into us by society and our medical training.

    Recently I was placed in a situation where I needed to move against the conventional direction of the relationship. It transpired that one of the patients I was looking after had been given an interesting diagnosis. Until the point of diagnosis things had progressed normally. My role as her doctor was to try to …

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