Let's not mix up efficient diagnosis with mind-reading

No reasonable person would expect doctors to read minds, but it is not unreasonable to expect doctors to be good clinicians, and possess good bedside manners and diagnostic skills as well as have a modicum of EQ to sense patients' feelings (Doctors are not expected to mind-read, by Mr Terence Seah, June 6; and Engage patients? Yes, but don't expect doctors to mind-read, by Mr Edmund Khoo Kim Hock, May 27).

This is especially vital when patients, in the presence of an authority figure like a doctor, are often incapable of articulating their fears and verbalising their thoughts.

If a patient claims to be unwell, isn't it the responsibility of a good doctor to make an attempt to decipher what the patient means, assist him in narrowing down and eliminating likely causes of his discomfort, and to pinpoint and arrive at the best guess of the source of his disease? Scientific tools and equipment can be then used to further confirm and verify.

One must not forget that medicine is, after all, a calling concerned with healing.

Healing has to be holistic and carried out with compassion, patience and understanding. Often, physicians have to heal themselves first to understand and accept this very basic tenet of the medical profession.

This is not mind-reading; this is staying faithful to the true intent of medicine.

Michael Loh Toon Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2017, with the headline 'Let's not mix up efficient diagnosis with mind-reading'. Print Edition | Subscribe