Why is the doctor angry?

A recent post on thehealthcareblog.com resonated with me. A patient of the author did not follow through with his treatment plan and badness ensued as a result:

Did we rush to the emergency room, to salvage his life? Of course. Were there innumerable tests, complex treatments, multiple consults and an ICU admission? You bet.  Did I patiently explain to him what was happening? Yes. Did I look him in the eye and tell him that I was upset, that he had neglected his own care by not reaching out and in doing so he violated the basic tenants of a relationship which said that he was the patient and I was the doctor?  Did I remind him what I expect from him and what he can expect from me?  You better believe it, I was really pissed!

The practice of medicine for most doctors is fueled by a passion to help our fellowman.  This is not a vague, misty, group hug sort of passion. This is a tear-down-the-walls and go-to-war passion.  We do not do this for money, fame, power or babes; we do this because we care.  Without an overwhelming desire to treat, cure and alleviate suffering, it would not be possible to walk into an oncology practice each morning. Therefore, just as we expect a lot of ourselves, we darn well expect a lot out of our patients.

I’m still early in my career and have not had something this severe happen, but I have answered calls from ERs about my patients who did not refill their medications in time and had a seizure or and MS flair. I do my best to keep them doing what they want to do and out of the hospital, but it doesn’t always go as planned. Practicing medicine is frustrating and often thankless, but I still love it.