Monday, June 6, 2011

extraneous information

"Oh, and the patient cross-dresses. I found that interesting." said in a very judgmental tone was how the intern decided to end his history & physical summary on a patient this morning in morning report. It took every ounce of self control to not jump across the table and slap him. Really?! What in the world does that piece of information have to do with patient care or his medical condition? Maybe if the patient was trans, it would make sense to enlighten the rest of the medical team that preferred pronouns do not match the medical record. But the way he addressed the matter was extraneous and unnecessary. It belittled the patient into a zoo animal or a freak.

Knowing that I can be hypersensitive, I asked another medical student what she thought about the event. Her response was of equal frustration and also some surprise that I managed to not snap at him. My initial thought was that the power hierarchy means I just need to let the event slide by. However, I'm beginning to think otherwise. If I find a moment alone with him, I may try to gently inform him that the comment lacked a touch of cultural sensitivity, assuming I can figure out a way to do this that fits within the paternalistic medical (& southern) culture in which I reside.

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