what do you expect from your physician?

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On Monday night I watched the latest episode of the medical series "House" on Fox. I watch this program for amusement, and to some extent because it annoys my twenty-somethng daughter to hear me discount many of the thought processes the "team" is supposedly engaging in to demonstrate how smart they are. This week, for example they tried to "rule out lead poisoning" by sending someone out to the patient's home to look for something she might have been exposed to. I know this is good TV, but it is VERY BAD medicine.

As an inpatient pediatrician, I and my colleagues are often presented with patients who have problems that are not easily diagnosed. Sometimes, when I have been caring for a child with such an illness, a parent will say to me: "We wish you were Doctor House." At which point I usually engage them in a conversation about what they expect from their physician. I point out all the bad and inappropriate behaviors demonstrated on the show, and tell them that I have spent most of my professional life trying to act in a professional and respectful manner.

I had many issues with this week's episode, and it is certainly NOT my intent to write a critique of the series, or spend too much of your time recounting what went on. What I really would like is to see comments from the readers (and I know that there are several hundred of you reading this) about what you expect from your physician, in terms of ability to make the correct diagnosis, but also in terms of behavior and professionalism--with patients, with families and with colleagues.

I look forward to reading your comments.

Recent Comments

Alice, I read this post as I am logging onto the medical record system and answering emails through "My Chart" from patients that were sent on Friday night and saturday.

My children and husband are enjoying a cartoon together after Sunday dinner and I have my lap top.

What do I value in a physician and therefore try to provide? Personal touch and relationship. It is only through this therapeutic relationship that I think that physicans and families can come to the "right" answer and plan of action. Medicine is not black and white or test book. All decisions must be made in context based on the best available informationship and desires of the family. In primary care, physicians who know their families and patients are much better therapeutic healers.

I agree. I believe professionalism in medicine, especially in pediatrics, is a declining art. Professionalism holds us all to a higher level of behavior and I believe we all need to act as role models for each other, our patients, and their families. Being professional to everyone you encounter is just the right thing to do. The media often would like to take medical professionals down as they would have taken a crooked politician down. It makes good TV to see the cranky "House" type doctor, but I wouldn't want that type of physician caring for my family

The other piece that I objected to during this particular episode, and which occurs during most episodes, is the way in which the new member of the team was treated; eventually intimidated to the point that she quit; feeling stupid and undervalued. Was it significant that she was a woman, or would a new male member be treated as poorly. Certainly we have seen the good Dr. House treat all of his underlings with contempt, but to me, as a woman in medicine, the depiction of the new member as pretty but dumb was really insulting to me.

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About Dr. Ackerman

Alice Ackerman, MD, MBA, FAAP, FCCM is the Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Carilion Clinic and Professor and Founding Chair of Pediatrics at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Dr. Ackerman is recognized nationally as an expert in pediatric critical care.

She has been at Carilion Clinic since June of 2007. Her primary goals are to enhance the health care of children in the Roanoke Valley and Southwest Virginia, and is actively working to do this both as physician in chief of the children's hospital, as well as through involvement with many state-wide initiatives.

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