Bedside Manner

Does kindness in healthcare matter? Figuring out whether it makes a measurable difference in medical outcomes is difficult, but more than four decades of exposure to the healthcare system, including five surgical childbirths and a miscarriage for Melanie, leaves me with the indelible impression that the system is weighted toward treating patients like objects with a problem to be solved, rather than individual persons to empathize with.

At the moment, the best answer to the kindness contrarian is: Even if the evidence in favor of the therapeutic benefits of empathy is weak, there is no evidence that refutes the idea that empathy improves care. And too many patients have stories of how unkindness or the sheer obliviousness of doctors can be devastating and indelible.

That said, my current doctor is great one-on-one, much better than my previous doctor, who got visibly annoyed when I asked questions.

Domenico Bettinelli, Jr., is a father of five and husband, a Roman Catholic, born in Boston, educated at Franciscan University of Steubenville, who has worked in Catholic media--print, broadcast, and online--since the mid-90s. Find out all about Dom on his About Me page.