If the Doc can’t talk English, go to the vet

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Worried vet
Without English, how can you hope to explain your symptoms?

Grumpy, uncommunicative, or plain non capisco?

It took Dr Kate Granger’s now famous social media campaign to get doctors and nurses just to say “Hello, my name is…

Sure, hospital staff are busy and rushed off their feet, but doesn’t there always have to be time to make a human connection?

Not a sausage factory

A patient is a real person, not a lump of meat.

Or – to open up the latest can of worms – doesn’t the Doc speak English?

A kind of basic issue that.

Like, is the Doc qualified in the first place?

Because even if a doctor is totally brilliant, if the only language of communication is Italian, Bengali or Finnish, how can anyone be expected to do the job properly?

Basic people skills

Yes, employing foreign medics might be a way to solve our current tsunami of hospital cases – but not if they don’t understand the patient.

And it’s not just introducing their name and saying “how do you do?”, like Kate Granger is asking.

Talking to your doctor is so crucial, we’re right to be worried if there’s no understanding.

It’s such a huge issue that credit card giant American Express is running a TV commercial worldwide about finding “a doctor who speaks your language.”

Crucial is right.

Understanding symptoms

You’re the patient, the only person in the whole world who can isolate what’s wrong with you.

It might be a painful gasp, “I feel crook,” and a clutch at your ribs. But at least the Doc has something to go on.

Because from there, it’s possible to ask questions. To help narrow down whatever is necessary to make a diagnosis.

Without English, there’s not even that.

Which is why you would be better off at the vet.

In the hands of a professional who is trained around not being able to communicate.

Observation and experience

Because animals can’t talk or make gestures. They can only feel ill, like you do.

And a vet has a better idea of what to look for when words aren’t available. Can interpret grunts, whines and squeaks more accurately than listening to Swahili.

Which makes sharing language and talking to patients much more of a key issue than politicians and whoever those admin people are might imagine.

More than just for courtesy and making patients feel welcome too.

Confidence and wellbeing are both qualities a good doctor can instil.

A few quiet, well-chosen words from a recognised authority figure work better than any medicine – saving time, money, heartache and worry.

Common sense

It’s plain common sense, anyway.

If you were to go and live in a Martian society, you’d get nowhere unless you spoke Martian. Unless you meshed with their society, understood their needs and recognised what motivated them.

Which is exactly what a doctor needs to engage with patients in Britain. It doesn’t have to be perfect English – it can even have a heavy accent.

Without it though, things can go horribly wrong.

It’s enough of a challenge fighting viruses and bacteria – without struggling with words as well. (Tweet this)

Your extremely life could lean on it.

Originally posted on 31 August 2018 @ 9:14 pm