Is "patient" archaic?

John Taylor: November 04, 20130 Comments

Has the word “patient” outworn its usefulness? That question surfaced some months back at a Mayo Clinic symposium focusing on having patients take greater responsibility for their own care (or should I say “wellness?”).

The noun suggests one thing, the adjective something else again. Are folks awaiting medical care actually long-suffering, uncomplaining? (if yes, does that mean they are “compliant,” if no does that mean they’re an obstacle until handed off?)

So folks at the symposium bantered around. Should patients now be called --- consumers, clients, customers? How about participants, partners? Maybe, guests? Against some backdrops, victims?

I’m not sure the debate is just a bunch a egg-heads who have too much time on their hands because they’re not delivering patient care. (Although a case could be made.)

The fact is providers (the good ones, anyway) invest a lot of energy and conscientiousness in ensuring timely care, kindness and courtesy for those in their care. They don’t treat them like furniture – "You get the light in Room 300B, I’ll get bedpan across the hall.”

To be sure, the government is muscling into the fiscal picture – paying more or less depending on how patients rate their care experience.

I’m OK with “patient.” I’m not OK when being patient means being viewed as complacent, uninvolved and passively waiting until a provider gets around to me.
 

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