Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Ethics Man

Patience for patients

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 19 April 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k1715
  1. Daniel Sokol, medical ethicist and barrister
  1. 12 King’s Bench Walk, London
  1. daniel.sokol{at}
    Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanielSokol9

It is tempting to take shortcuts when dealing with patients whose English is poor

When the midwife visited the home of Sinthiya Rajatheepan the day after she gave birth, she found the baby boy lying in bed, pale and lethargic. Unfed for nearly 16 hours, he was hypoglycaemic. Although he was rushed to hospital, he developed cerebral palsy and severe disabilities.12

No one at the hospital had explained to Rajatheepan, who had just turned 21, how to feed her baby properly and what to do in the event of poor feeding.

On the day of her discharge from hospital the baby had been crying all day. None of the midwives, however, had paid much attention to mother or baby. The …

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