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Never Withdraw Your Attention from the Patient

Posted on March 27, 2014 by Sandy Pardue

Withdrawing your attention from a patient can be perceived by the patient as a “put down”. In truth, it is a put down.

Many years ago, I was at a booth meeting with a company representative about his services at a convention. During our conversation the individual I was dealing with looked up and recognized an acquaintance. He greeted the friend and then began a conversation with him.

When he finished with his friend and turned back to business, he discovered he was alone, as we had left his booth. My reaction to his change of focus was to question his ability to advise others if he did not even know how to manage his business affairs. It was an error in good manners to become involved with a friend while trying to do business with me. I also began to wonder how many times a similar situation has occurred between doctor and patient in a dentist’s office. When we are with patients, or anyone, they must have our undivided, undiluted attention. If it becomes necessary to give our attention to someone else, or even to leave the patient, would it not be more thoughtful to pointedly excuse ourselves?

When a person becomes a patient, he is not in the same frame of mind as he would be were he window shopping or at a ball game. He is more acutely aware of things happening around him, he becomes far more sensitive to actions of those around him and his defenses are usually up. We must not take him for granted. The most routine procedures to us may be threatening to him, and we need to be considerate. This kind of staff sensitivity is one of the main ingredients of the prospering practice.


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