Decalogue for Doctors

  1. When a patient enters your surgery, stand up, shake hands and introduce yourself. Comport yourself with the same proprietary at the bedside. Show respect for the patient. He is often older than you, has life and professional experiences that are different from, and sometimes richer than, your own. The fact that he has a disease does not entitle you to look down on him. The patient does not cease to be a human being simply because of a diseased liver or bone marrow. He deserves compassion (the whole rationale for medicine). Give the patient the sympathy and respect due to every new acquaintance. Remember that you not only owe your medical knowledge to your teachers and studies, but also to your patients, from whom you have learnt symptomatology of diseases and reactions to drugs (most of which you have never used).
  2. Treat the patient with the same politeness you would treat a guest in your home. Ask about his job, career achievements, and family. Ask what you can do to help, listen patiently and explain doubts.
  3. Do not let the patient see you impatient, in a rush or nervous. Show the patient that you believe the therapy will be a success, and mobilize him to fight the disease under your guidance. Reassure the patient that he will not be left alone. Offer your real and moral support during health crises. The patient has to follow you in faith and with confidence in your skills, competence, kindness and selflessness.
  4. Make the patient feel that he is your top priority at that moment. Convince him that you take an interest in him, and that his illness is a challenge and a mystery to be solved.
  5. Show respect for the patient. Lean over him, and show that you understand his suffering and his fears. Let the patient be your partner – this will help you gain his trust and cooperation in the healing process, and will also help convince him that your medical procedures are correct.
  6. Remember that everyone is scared, is uncertain about the future, and expects the worst during a health crisis. Your patient is in an unfamiliar situation, is afraid of diagnostic procedures, and expects your interest and warmheartedness, as well as your composure, concentration and self-assurance, in making decisions. Remember too that any decision must be approved by the patient, who needs to be convinced of its soundness.
  7. When you enter the sick room and approach the patient, leave your home and professional troubles, as well as your own health problems, at the door. They should not affect your behaviour, or the speed and accuracy of your decision-making. A gloomy face, a bad mood, or a lack of smile can be misinterpreted as a lack of hope. This can adversely affect the patient’s condition and well-being. Also take responsibility for the atmosphere in your medical team. The healthy, no less than the sick, require kindness and mutual respect.
  8. Remember that "the doctor should like his patients and feel responsible for them" (Antoni Kępiński). Treat your patients as you would like your loved ones to be treated in illness.
  9. "Do not take away the hope of thy neighbour" (Julian Aleksandrowicz). "Not bringing a man hope is worse than making him blind or killing him" (Marek Hłasko). Bring hope and give it a chance of being fulfilled by improving the conditions of treatment and by taking a holistic approach to the patient in conjunction with his surroundings, profession, personal habits and interpersonal relations. Take the patient’s individuality and psychosomatic unity into account.
  10. "Nothing that can affect the health of my patient will be indifferent to me" (Hippocrates). Do not expect gratitude from patients. It's nice if they express it, but remember that healing the sick is a privilege granted only to the medical profession. In this sense, the doctor is the equal of kings and presidents. He can give life to others.