doctor-patient communication

Medicine Out of Context

I ducked into the ladies’ room at La Guardia Airport in New York for a pitstop before boarding my flight. Inside I encountered a housekeeper washing the floors. She flashed me a broad smile.

“Doctora,” she said, and then hesitated. I could see that she was waiting for a response. “Recuerdame?” More

Neuron Overload

Sometimes it feels as though my brain is juggling so many competing details, that one stray request from a patient—even one that is quite relevant—might send the delicately balanced three-ring circus tumbling down. One day, I tried to work out how many details a doctor needs to keep spinning in her head in order to do a satisfactory job, by calculating how many thoughts I have to juggle in a typical office visit. More

Voice Mail: Blessing and Curse

Voice mail is both a blessing and a curse. When we were first given voice mail in our clinic, it was a revolution–patients could actually get in contact with their doctors. But sometimes voice mail is a ball and chain. More

Swine Flu and You

The only preventative medicine that actually prevents disease are vaccinations. Our world is an immeasurably better place since the advent of vaccines. Yet there is a complicated psychology that hovers like a fog around the idea of vaccination. More

Drowning in a Sea of Health Complaints

The patient was a classic “worried-well” type of patient. When she unfolded a sheet of paper with a brisk snap, my heart sank as I saw 30 lines of hand-printed concerns. More

The Patient’s Voice

Not long ago I learned that these side effects listed on the package insert are not the ones the patient actually complains of. No, they are the symptoms the patients’ doctors choose to report, the doctors’ impressions of what the patients are describing. More

Sometimes, Doctors Find Answers Far Off the Charts

Sometimes it is only when the patient is halfway out the door that the important information spills out. The “hand on the doorknob” phenomenon is well known in medicine. More

At a Bustling City Clinic, Esperanto Would Come In Handy

Despite three long years of high school French, the best I could come up with was “Je m’appelle Dr. Ofri.” More

Talking With Doctors

Imagine falling mysteriously ill in a foreign country, in which the language, culture, and customs have no bearing on your own. Imagine trying to find medical help and evaluating your potential healers without understanding the territory, while the shadow of imminent death lingers over your shoulder. This is roughly the experience that David Newman underwent when he discovered that he had a rare tumor that was hovering precariously near his brain stem. The foreign capital was a certain well-known medical city on the Hudson River. More

They Sent Me Here

“They told me to give you this,” she said, as she pushed an envelope across the desk toward me. I’ve always been intrigued by who “they” are — those mystery people referred to with such assumed authority and universality. Particularly in a large city hospital, in which the staff is mammoth and constantly changing, “they” constitute a particularly encompassing force. More

Evidence-Based Medicine

Evidence-based medicine often induces more confusion than clarity. It also means different things to different people. More

The Patient vs The Illness

So often in medicine we make it sound like the patient is responsible for the clinical outcomes of their illness. More

Books by Danielle Ofri