Patients-not just Images

Devoted to Education and Practice in Patient-centered Radiology

Chairman's Corner

That Book on My table

Ravi Ramakantan

My office space at the hospital is an 'open house'.

For a couple of years now, I have not been locking the door to my office when I am done for the day.

After much convincing, the security staff agreed to leave my office unlocked through the night.

You see, I have a rather large office space with a huge glass window which overlooks an open space - you can see the green magically created by the August rains and the beautiful, ever-changing white cloud patterns on the September sky.

This is not the reason I leave my office open through the night for others to use; but there is a very practical, patient-centered reason.

My office is on the same floor as the department - close to where all patient-action takes place - day and night.

During night hours and when on call, the resident staff normally have to travel several floors down through busy elevators - delaying things related to patient care and this tends to repeat itself several times through the night.

It was natural for us to explore a space on the same floor as the department where residents could catch a shut-eye while on call and still be available at short notice.

There was no such spare space.

My room has a comfortable examination couch that residents could rest on as and when they can..

Thus my residents have a run of my office during their call hours and I guess they are grateful for this benevolence on my part, I do not grudge this arrangement.

Most mornings , when I enter my office the only annoying thing I find that is that the room lights have been left on.

This usually gets my goat but - I just let it go.

Occasionally though, I will find = hidden behind the white curtain- a resident still sleeping on the couch .. I let that too go .. poor 'bacchu' must have had a busy night.

Chairs in disarray and a blanket on the floor or the couch appearing as if it has gone though a war zone - make me really angry. When this happens, off and on, I will I look up that resident and give a piece of my mind. Normally then such a thing does not recur.

But, the other day, I found a Radiology textbook onl my table, room lights on and the three chairs strewn around the room .. I am obsessive compulsive that these chairs are in their place around the table.

That book has been lying on my table and there is a name of a resident in one of the pages, but no one has come to take it way.

As I write, that book still adorns my table top.

What is the big deal? you ask!

Each one of the above behaviour represents disrespect and an uncaring, unthinking attitude towards what is not yours.

The greater implication is that it will reflect in patient care.

If residents are not perceptive enough to do the right things in such situations,. it will be have to really magical if they show great caring for patients' needs.

It is is a show of courtesy, when you make sure that the lights are off, the chairs in their place, a clean table, the way it was and the bed done up properly before you leave the room.

Unfortunately, such courtesy is sorely lacking. Maybe the residents are not to blame as this has been happening through generations of residents and and I have written about this in another essay long, long ago.

The point I am trying to make is that as teachers of grown up adults, we may have to inculcate in our residents what they ought have imbibed from their parents or school teachers.

But it is never too late.

I take every opportunity to discuss these non-medical thoughts with residents even as I discuss radiology cases. I have a reputataion of doing more of the former than the latter!

Of course I try to set an example as my mentors did when I was in my twenties.

Dear residents,

Leave chairs where they were.

Request permission before you leave the room. Do not interrupt a dictation.

Make way for a patient trolley, guide patients lost in corridors frantically looking for their destination. Do not hog elevators ahead of patients.. do not discuss patients in elevators, do not push swing doors when it says "Pull". Do not crack jokes or laugh out loudly when patients or relatives are within earshot ...the list is endles. All this springs from my favourite 'aphorism - "Patients do not come in the way of your work - THEY are your work"

At all times, being courteous and truly caring will make you a much better doctor than all that you can learn from all the books that Google can throw up.

"Learn" these courtesies, watch and improve.. practise them and lead by example when you grow up to be a teacher yourself.

After all, there is a wold beyond you!

Maybe this is what they used to call "Guru-Shishya Parampara".; which obviously means that all gurus will have to lead by exapmle. I can only hope they will.

August 2019.