Doing Too Much...Or Too Little?

  1. A short article:

    The greatest carver
    does the least cutting.
    - Tao Te Ching

    Recently in a local Emergency Department a physician treated a young child, brought in by the mother, for a temperature and sore throat caused by a virus. Shortly after the child arrived home, an irate father called wanting to know why the child "wasn't given any antibiotics." The physician informed the father that antibiotics were not the appropriate treatment for a virus and in fact, would do more harm than good.

    This father, like many parents, are suffering from the "magic pill" syndrome. "Give me a pill and make it go away" is the typical attitude that many Westerners have. We have been guilty of taking antibiotics when they were unwarranted, and physicians have been guilty of writing the prescriptions, probably in many cases, just to make patients happy. In this case, however, no antibiotics were indicated. Needlessly giving antibiotics would have made them less effective in the event they were needed later in life for a true infection. There are now many reports of bacteria that have become resistant to the most powerful antibiotic in our arsenal, Vancomycin. Now that is a scary thought!

    I'm reminded of the story about the Oriental Medicine doctor who was the envy of other physicians. It seems his patients did better than anyone else's and the other physicians were determined to find out why.

    They observed the master physician for a while and discovered several interesting things. First, the master physician didn't really enjoy being a physician. Secondly, he did very little for his patients, usually just talking and laughing with them. He might occasionally insert a few acupuncture needles or prescribe a few herbs, but that was all.

    The other physicians were dumbfounded! It seems they were doing as much as they could for their patients, inserting many needles and prescribing many herbs and other remedies. Why didn't their patients do better than his?

    I also fell in the same mode of thinking when I was a new bodyworker. When someone came to see me I would pull out my full arsenal of "techniques" in order to relieve them of their misery, not fully realizing that I was trying to appease my own ego.

    Then one day I remembered the family physician I had while growing up: old Dr. Segura. Dr. Segura could just look at you and tell you what was wrong with you. He would chat with you briefly then usher you out the door. You would, however, feel much better.

    I immediately changed course and begin listening and observing more and doing less. Sure, enough, my clients did better.

    It seems our bodies are designed to heal on its own and when we as healthcare professionals get in the way and interfere too much, we do more harm than good. Just chat with our clients, listen to their stories and send them on the way...knowing that we did the best that nature intended.
  2. Visit zenman profile page

    About zenman, APRN Guide

    Joined: Dec '03; Posts: 2,918; Likes: 1,547
    PMHNP; from US


  3. by   FutureRNMichael
    I find that mode of thinking in upper level medical practioners to be very effective in my experience. When seeing a Doc(NP fall into the category) I dislike to see them looking all tattered and in deep thought about my health concern rather I much prefer the relaxed,giving some sound advice,a lil chit-chat and walking me to the door. I could see where this attitude might be less effective when treating different illnesses but the common cold,flu,sore throat...etc that so many people go to medical offices(ER too!) for could be treated better with simple things.

    ANyway, I am done babbling... Basically I can always tell when my doctor(s) are in one of those modes of thinking. Something to think about.
  4. by   c.wicks
    Eastern Philosophy offers a wealth of knowledge seldom utilized by Western medical practitioners. Human health requires true knowledge of what it means to be "Human".

    .................................................. .................................................. .................................................. ..................................................

    "Know thy self, heal thy self"..... borrowed from The Pythia-Oracle at Delphi, by Socrates-Father of Western Philosophy
  5. by   gwenith
    Zenman - how can anyone argue with that?

    East or West listening to the person and not the illness, it is perenial wisdom.

    Thank - you for sharing.
  6. by   teeituptom
    Nicely put ZENMAN