What I know I owe to patientsBMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g6734 (Published 01 December 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6734
- James Munro, chief executive officer, Patient Opinion, Sheffield S3 8EN
When I was young I trained in medicine. I studied hard and learned many things. I was anxious, but because I knew that I knew a lot, I wasn’t afraid to make decisions. I thought I was a pretty good doctor. But I didn’t know quite how much I didn’t know.
Over the past decade, as one of the team running Patient Opinion (www.patientopinion.org.uk), a non-profit online public feedback service for UK healthcare, I have read thousands of stories of care—good and bad—contributed by patients and their relatives. Many are written with remarkable insight and thoughtfulness. And so I have come to know some of what I didn’t know then.
Arrogance of medicine
I didn’t know how much patients see. Many times as a young doctor I was tired, irritable, scared, or even angry with my patients. There were times when I didn’t get on with other staff or they didn’t get on with me. In many of the stories I have read it is painfully clear that patients and relatives often see all of this. My obliviousness wasn’t …