The Catholic Medical Guild of Singapore

Behind those clothes… Posted on 29th May 2014, 2:09pm by Alvin

Have you ever wondered about those hospital clothes that each institution gives to patients when they first come in? Those ubiquitous blue (where I’m working) / pink / green / purple coloured baju (that the nurses love to call them), that accords a degree of uniformity and order in our otherwise chaotic wards. That offers an instant glance and recognition of the patient in Parson’s sick role. That offers ease and convenience of examination – try asking every patient to open their T-shirts to auscultate their chest, or roll up their tight jeans to examine the lower limbs. Then there’s also the convenience that affords the patient – packaged laundry service.

How often, have we forgotten about who lies under those clothes?

It is all too easy for us to take patients as who they are – patients. An age, a gender, a past medical history, a long list of medications, and a presenting complaint. Throw in the lab and scan results, package nicely into problem lists. Solve / address the problem. Send home soon so that the masses in the emergency department have an empty bed to admit to.

Along the machinery of today’s healthcare system, we seem to have forgotten about patients and their lives outside – that this hospital environment, is only a transient stay. I had lunch recently with a Physiotherapist friend, who was seeing this lady who had been staying in hospital for a few months. Previously, plans were for intense physiotherapy and home after everything else had been sorted out. “Do you know that she used to be an avid collector of antiques?” “Did you know that she loved travelling everywhere before her knees gave her problems?”

That got me thinking. Our ward rounds are almost whirlwind-like at times, in part due to heavy patient loads – that we barely establish any semblance of patient-doctor relationship at times. At most, it is a superficial relationship – I update you on your medical condition, I update your family by the bedside, I address your concerns. That’s preeettty much about it. There rarely is the time to go into extra details, or for a moment of chit-chat about life matters.

And we wonder how neighbourhood GPs keep their regular patients? The answer is there. The doctor-patient relationship goes beyond the medical encounter. Being a part of your patient’s medical encounter, and a part of their lives, knowing about concerns, their families etc. Of course, drawing the proverbial line, is also important. But surely it serves to remind us of the other aspect of how patient-doctor relationships have the potential to be?

Have you seen your patient in their home clothes today? Try looking at your patients just before they’re brought home by their families – dressed nicely in their own clothes, you’d almost forget they were lying in your hospital bed so ill a few days ago.

You’ll be surprised. =)

One Comment

  1. Dr Eileen Tham Wai Fong says:

    God bless CMG.

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Dr’s Blog is a feature of the CMG web site that aims to encourage interaction between Guild members. We hope to foster a spirit of community through the sharing of thoughts and personal experirences. The opinions expressed in these blogs are entirely those of the contributors and not of the Catholic Medical Guild of Singapore.

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Past Blog Articles

2015 Jul: May You Rest in Peace
2015 Jan: Happy New Year 2015

2014 Dec: A Prayer for Deliverance 2
2014 Oct: Who are you, Where am I?
2014 Sep: A Prayer for Deliverance
2014 May: Behind Those Clothes
2014 Feb: The Red Packet(s)
2014 Jan: God Loves You

2013 Dec: Caroling Reflections of an Expired M
2013 Nov: Scripture Reflection for Physicians
2013 Oct: Hang on. We haven’t beat this thing yet.
2013 Sep: Me and My Ride
2013 Aug: A Gift of Life
2013 Jul: Finding Happiness in a Land of Plenty
2013 Jun: A Beeline
2013 May: Living My Love Of..
2013 Apr: The Healthcare Debate
2013 Mar: A Doctor’s Prayer
2013 Feb: Project Battambang ’12
2013 Feb: Mission Srolanth ’12: To Heal the Heart, with a Heart to Heal
2013 Jan: The Hardest Thing To Say…

2012 Dec: The Lost Art Of…
2012 Nov: Rome Sweet Home – Short Reflections
2012 Sep: He Keeps Falling
2012 Aug: God Decides
2012 July: Am I To Blame?
2012 June: Saving Fragile Lives
2012 May: Ruminations On Love
2012 Mar: The iPhone

2011 Dec: The Red Cross
2011 Nov: Give Thanks!
2011 Aug: Ashes – The Epilogue
2011 July: Charity
2011 July: Ashes
2011 May: Of Angry Birds & Cowardly Mice
2011 May: Notes From Salzburg On Good Friday
2011 Apr: What It Means
2011 Mar: A Job.
2011 Mar: Dear Father…
2011 Feb: Clothes, A Person Doth Maketh
2011 Jan: Wonderfully Made

2010 Dec: A White Christmas
2010 Dec: A Medical Christmas Carol
2010 Nov: Saying Goodbye
2010 Oct: I Am Always With You
2010 Sept: Be Joyful Always
2010 July: Managing Expectations
2010 June: But They Are Our Masters…
2010 June: Driving: A Means of Personal Formation?
2010 May: HO Welcome Tea
2010 May: The Rain
2010 May: A Missed Lunch
2010 May: Man In The Mirror
2010 May: Reflections At The End Of The Day
2010 Apr: Finding God In All Things
2010 Mar: Surely You Put Your Trust In The Lord?
2010 Mar: The Significance of a Name

2009 Nov: Batam: Beyond A Mission
2009 Oct: The Broken Rosary
2009 Sept: Love Note To God, Father
2009 Aug: Let God Take The Wheel
2009 Aug: The Prequel: The One About Graduation
2009 July: The Sequel: The Later Months
2009 June: First Month of HO-Ship
2009 May: “The House of God” by Samuel Shem
2009 May: In The Discipleship for Christ


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