The “Difficult” Patient: It’s Time to Replace the D-Word

November 2, 2011

I hear the phrase a lot from doctors, physician bloggers, surgeons, nurses, fellow patients and loved ones; being labeled the “difficult patient” because of a chronic or complicated illness.

I’ve heard “the difficult patient” referred to as a lot of things: the patient with a nasty attitude; the patient who refuses treatment or refuses to take care of their body; the patient with a complicated family situation; the patient with a terminal/complicated disease pattern; the patient whose disease remains a mystery; the patient who can’t give a straight answer; the patient who has a chronic illness.

Most of those definitions I understand. But it’s the phrase I have an issue with when it comes to being the chronically ill patient.

For those of you reading this that are healthy, I want you to stop and imagine the following: You are sick all of the time. You have fevers and can’t control when you’ll have a hot flash or cold sweat or chills; diarrhea or constipation; cramps or nausea. You have pain: muscle and joint everywhere, all the time and often without relief. You might have chronic migraines, numbness, memory loss and disorientation that comes and goes. You are fatigued, and by [...] continue the story