There is a trend in medicine now to emphasize the parts of the doctor’s performance that can be measured. For example, I routinely receive lists from my hospital and insurance companies of patients who are overdue for various screening tests.
But the less quantfiable aspects of a doctor’s behavior are left to the occasional patient satisfaction survey, anonymous gripes and gushes on the Internet ... or to silence.
I didn’t recognize myself in the picture my former patient painted. Had I really been so callow then? How had I so thoroughly misread my interaction with this woman? All this time later, what was the lesson to be learned? To be more sensitive? To track down patients who disappear, and find out why?
But, in many divorces, two good people simply turn out not to be good together.
I wrote back to the woman and apologized for disappointing her. And she wrote back to wish me well.
Dr. Suzanne Koven is a primary care internist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Read her blog on Boston.com/Health. She can be reached at inpracticemd@gmail .com.