We stumbled on an article about a doctor’s eye-opening experience spending time as a patient, and it got us thinking: what if all lawyers spent time as clients? Perhaps the best way to see how the system affects those who are at its mercy is to stand in their shoes.
This is a lesson that Dr. Daniel Spogen learned after a trip through the emergency room of the Reno, Nevada hospital where he worked. In What Happens When a Doctor Becomes the Patient?, Dr. Spogen details his grueling ordeal as a patient after getting thrown from his horse, including the following highlights:
The medical assistant at the [Emergency Department] bay grabs my shoulders and chest and pivots me into a wheelchair. Well, I guess this is good test to make sure I don’t have a spine injury. I almost pass out from the pain.
The assistant asks what happened, and I am able to say, “Horse accident, blunt trauma LUQ, near syncopal.”
She gives me a quizzical look and says, “Would that be trauma?”
“Yes, that would be trauma.”
* * *
I am informed I can’t have anything for pain because of my allergies, but I eventually talk them into Toradol.
* * *
I am told that the trauma surgeon was called for a motor vehicle accident, and it will be a while before I will be seen. Five hours later, the surgeon enters the room laughing. “I bet you are in pain, aren’t you?” Hilarious. Luckily, I don’t have a fractured spine or spleen.
* * *
I finally call to ask the nurse for pain meds. She answers on the intercom that she will be right with me. Two hours later, she arrives and wonders why I refuse the medicine. The thing about broken ribs is that if you don’t cough, sneeze or move, the pain goes away.
Dr. Spogen’s visit to the hospital was a wake up call for him and led him to question whether the medical system could be made better if those in the medical field spent time as patients.
I am a respected doctor who works every day in this hospital, yet look how I was treated. I now understand why some of my patients are upset with their hospital care.
It was a good lesson for me, however. I will handle my inpatients differently in the future . . . . My students and residents will hear about my experience, and they will know the issues patients face.
As a physician, I knew when my treatment was not ideal, but most patients do not have this same knowledge. Maybe if all doctors and nurses spent some time as patients, we could make the system better.
Dr. Spogen’s article got us thinking as well. What if all lawyers spent time as clients? Would that lead to change in the legal system? Would it make the legal system better? We think so. We think it is human nature that until you actually stand in someone else’s shoes, you don’t really see things from their perspective. We think an attorney/client role reversal could do wonders.
You’ve got options. The Center for Legal Practice Reform can help you navigate the attorney/client relationship and level the playing field. Call LPR today for a free consultation – (301) 351-7970.