By HAIDER JAVED WARRAICH, M.D, from the NYT
I love this. Essentially:
““Doc, give it to me straight. If this were your mother, what would you do?”
While the patient-doctor interaction varies widely across cultures and continents, this question seems to be a universal constant…From a patient or family member’s perspective…. this question helps them make sense of the confusion, desolation and powerlessness that so often defines the hospital experience, which usually involves a full-on assault of numbers, jargon and ‘expert’ opinion… it makes sense that they would defer the choice to those who appear to know what they are doing. And by invoking the physician’s parent, they hope to humanize the physician and have a conversation with real stakes.
Yet I still find this question hard to answer. See…my answer to the question would be very different, as it would be for anyone, depending on which parent you asked me about.
So I have come to believe that the right answer to the question, “If this were your mother, doctor…” is: “Tell me more about your mother.”
This response gives patients’ families the chance to think about their loved ones, about what they would value and what they would consider a good life, what they would think was worth fighting for if they were available to answer the question for themselves…It takes them away from a place where they feel solely responsible for the trajectory of their relative’s life to one where they simply communicate what the patient would want out of her life. We as physicians can then weigh in on whether it is reasonable to expect that to happen.”
YES. Totally using this.