Evaristo, middle-aged, was the typical porteño, nice and canchero. On his first visit to the office, he acted with great discretion and prudence. He meekly submitted to my examination and listened carefully to my explanations of the necessity of the surgical procedure to which he should undergo. He received the indications of the preoperative studies. During the entire consultation I had the feeling that I had already consulted before mine and that I knew perfectly his inexorable destiny. We schedule a new interview for next week.
In the second interview, having approved all the studies that I had indicated, he expressed his desire to pay me my surgical fees in advance.
Faced with the definite expression of his desire, I explained to him that for ethical reasons he never charged fees in advance, that he really understood that I was just trusting him with a fee. Instead, he put his health and life in my hands. He seemed to have understood my reasons and we said goodbye until the day of his intervention.
On the day of admission, I receive a call from the floor nurse saying that the patient wanted to speak to me before surgery. I entered the room and found Evaristo sitting on the bed, calm and smiling. After the usual greeting and my reassuring and comforting words before the surgical act to which I was going to undergo, the patient again expressed his desire to pay my fees in advance. Given my perplexity at the insistence, I asked him the reason for it, to which he very loosely replied:
– Look doctor, for two reasons: first, for cabal and second, because you are going to operate happier!
Let us not forget that the transcendent object of medicine is the human being, healthy or sick, in function of society. Treating an illness can be totally impersonal. Caring for a patient, on the other hand, is a totally personal act. It is the doctor who, obeying or renouncing his humanity, gives science or not its human and ethical content.
The sick need to be cared for, they want to be heard, they want us to address their concerns and fears, with love and honesty. They don’t need our benevolent paternalism. They long for a mature relationship and communication.
We should restore professionalism and ethical conduct to our ranks. Our diploma must be a guardian of respect, it should be a guarantee of seriousness and rectitude of procedures. We are a very important sector of the social parenchyma and for this reason the doctor is and will always be a leader within the community.