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1.14 - Patient Respect

Never underestimate the power and great value of a pleasant attitude and smile.  They have incalculable value in patient care and in maintaining a good working relationship with peers and supervisors.  Maintaining both also goes a long way in dispelling discouragement over feelings of ineptness and failure.

Do not make visible or implied judgments of the patient’s reactions, personal characteristics, appearance, socioeconomic status, race or national origin.  The health professions are no place for personal judgments of others or for personal prejudice.

Gaining the confidence of the patient, allaying fears, anticipating and responding to his/her reactions, are not only significant in terms of proper professional and ethical procedures, but also are highly significant in fostering the patient’s cooperation which is often essential for obtaining a satisfactory examination.  Patients frequently will exhibit reactions of fear, depression, worry, anger and despair.  These reactions must be accepted as manifestations of the patient’s illness to be dealt with as empathetically, courteously and competently as the situation allows.  They are not to be labeled right or wrong.

Physical deformity, unsightly wounds, unpleasant odors and the like are conditions over which the patient has little or no control.  Thus, the patient’s physical appearance must be accepted with no visible display of distaste or displeasure.  This will be, perhaps, the most difficult quality to develop as it requires a high degree of self-discipline to look beyond physical deformity and repugnant conditions to the suffering human being who is your patient. Perhaps it will help to remember that such patients are generally deeply embarrassed with respect to their personal appearance and suffer greatly as a result of being the source of distaste and repugnance to others.

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