Knowing your patients beyond what ails them can seem like a luxury not afforded to today's physicians or nurses. However, when patients return with repeated complaints, worsening pain, or seeming inability to adhere to medical advice, there may be an underlying, non-physical cause which needs to be addressed.
Your patient's life outside the hospital walls impacts their entire well-being. Maybe your patient doesn't fill their prescription because they're not able to afford the copay. Or maybe transportation is an issue. Perhaps their symptoms are exacerbated by inadequate housing conditions or even other emotional stressors that push them beyond their coping abilities.
Failing to identify and respond to such stressors can impede physical, and emotional, recovery. It's likely your patients will not necessarily speak opening about their life outside the medical issue at hand. This can be especially true as a pediatric provider. A patient's parents/caregivers provide a wealth of information and insight, but may not know everything, as is often the case with older children and teens. Delving deeper, asking questions to address their distress, emotional support and family needs, helps to identify where a patient and their family need additional assistance to fully recover.
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