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Why empathy is necessary in medicine – Patient fears may not be based in fact, but they are real

A physician looks at how doctors communicate with their patients and urges his colleagues to think about how their actions might affect patients.


When you work in the emergency department (ED) on a regular basis, you can lose some of your empathy for patients.


It can become difficult to understand a patient’s thinking when he or she comes to the ED with a minor complaint. It also becomes easy to say, « That could have waited until morning, » or, « Why didn’t she try some acetaminophen? » We forget that we see these complaints daily, yet this may be the first time that a patient has experienced this problem.


by Dan Perrault, MD

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