Pediatric and geriatric patient interaction

10 04 2010

In my experience of taking both elderly and youth to doctor’s visits, I believe there is a similar approach applied to both – that they are less competent and capable of explaining their issues and understanding the questions posed them.  I also believe from that same experience that this approach is not always appropriate.  There is a need to apply patience when questioning for symptoms and when detailing the medical plan, as it is their body and they need to be given that respect.

Dr. John Purvis explains that with pediatric patients interaction should involve what he calls the Four E’s: Engagement, Empathy, Enlistment and Education and I feel that the same guidelines apply to the elderly patients (Purvis).  They need to be involved or engaged in the discussion of their health; we need to be able to personalize with their suffering; involve them in working towards treatment and helping them understand what exactly they are going through.  “Difficulties in communication are frustrating for those who cannot gather their thoughts, enunciate clearly or understand what is being said to or asked of them” states Raphael Barishansky (Barishansky).

It is critical that we look to the patient for answers rather than the person who has brought them, as they are the most capable of all involved of describing their symptoms.  For example, one time my five year old daughter had fallen and hit her head badly and the nurses tried to assess her symptoms and when they asked her if she had a headache, she said “I don’t know, but I have men in my head playing the drums.”  I may know the details of the accident and be able to express with better clarity my assessment as a witness, but I can’t speak for her in regards to what she is physically enduring.  If we disregard the patient’s attempt to explain for themselves and instead try to hasten the process by listening to their caretaker, we could miss significant details that are relevant to their ailment.

Work Cited

Barishansky, Raphael M. “The Geriatric Patient.” EMS Magazine. June 2007. Web. 10 Apr. 2010. <http://www.emsresponder.com/print/EMS-Magazine/The-Geriatric-Patient/1$5493&gt;.

Purvis, John M. “The Challenge of Communicating with Pediatric Patients.” AAOS Now 4.3 (2010).American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Mar. 2010. Sun. 10 Apr. 2010. <http://www.aaos.org/news/aaosnow/feb09/clinical5.asp&gt;.

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