L’ospedale non lasci più senza parole (Parte 2)
How to get by around the hospital
A short guide on how to get by around a hospital setting
Data di pubblicazione: 15 gennaio 2020
Working as an international doctor in a hospital environment where English is the main language of communication can be a bit of dauting task.
In this article we’re going to address three main points:
- how to introduce yourself to a patient
- how to interact with a patient during a medical examination
- language Focus
In the previous article we have addressed the following practices:
- ward staff in the UK
- places on the ward
It has to be borne in mind that the academic path to become a doctor in the UK and USA is quite different from the Italian one. Having a knowledge of the different academic paths leading to the medical profession is a key element while interacting with international doctors during conferences, seminars as well as in a work environment. If you want to more, please refer to our “How to introduce yourself” guide (“Come presentarsi”). This guide will help you introduce yourself to other medical professionals.
How to introduce yourself to a patient
The ward is an environment teeming with medical professionals caught up with their work. In such a buy environment, patients might get confused. It is advisable that medical professionals always introduce themselves to patients by stating their name and their job role. Here is a dialogue between a doctor and a patient. The doctor introduces himself and provide the patient with a general information about how things work in the ward.
DOCTOR: Hello Mr McGarry. My name’s doctor Weatherford. I’m one of the ward doctors on duty this evening.
PATIENT: Ah, right. Sorry. I didn’t catch your name.
DOCTOR: That’s okay. It’s doctor Weatherford. I’m the RMO on call this shift.
PATIENT: RMO? I’m not sure I know what that means.
DOCTOR: Oh! Yes, sorry. I’m the surgical RMO, the surgical doctor.
PATIENT: Oh, do you work for doctor Frost?
DOCTOR: Not exactly. I’m the doctor for surgical cases on several wards. That means that I look after patients who’ve had surgery or minor procedures. You’re in hospital under Doctor Frost, aren’t you?
PATIENT: Yes. I had my gallbladder out two days ago. I didn’t see you when doctor Frost did his round this morning so I wasn’t sure whether you were part of his team or not. It’s because of the different uniforms you guys wear. They confuse me sometimes.
DOCTOR: Yes, I know. It might be a bit tricky. Sometimes doctors wear white coats but most of us wear scrubs.
PATIENT: Yes, I noticed that. The problem is that some of the nurses in HCA wear them too. Sometimes I don’t quite know who I’m speaking to.
DOCTOR: Yeah, I know. It can be a bit confusing. All staff should introduce themselves to you and state what their role is. They should always wear a name tag as well. Like mine, here.
PATIENT: Oh, I see now. It’s just that hospital surroundings aren’t very familiar for some of us. I’d never had an operation before, you see. The last time I was in a hospital was quite a few years ago, and I wasn’t looking forward to coming back, I can tell you.
DOCTOR: I can imagine Mr McGarry. Wards are very busy nowadays because there are a lot more specialists healthcare professionals. I’m sure patients appreciate knowing who they’re speaking to. I think it cuts down some of the anxiety of a hospital stay.
PATIENT: That’s for sure, doctor Weatherford. The reason I asked the nurse to call you is that I wanted to talk to you about something. It’s a bit embarrassing …
DOCTOR: No worries at all. Please feel free to tell me what’s bothering you.
 RMO: Fully registered doctor in private hospitals who cares for inpatients and who is often on call as well. RMOs are on site 24 hours a day to cover for cardiac arrests on behalf of consultants. To know more about British and American medical training, refer to our guide “How to introduce yourself to other medical professionals.”
How to interact with a patient during a medical examination
It is paramount for a doctor to have excellent bedside manners. Patients should be provided with all the relevant information about their health status and must be talked through the entire examination process. In the dialogue below, you will find sentences in bold you can use while interacting with your patients during a medical examination.
DOCTOR: Good morning Mr Anderson. Come in a sit down here. I’m doctor Moulton and I’m replacing your GP Mr Wallace for a couple of weeks.
PATIENT: That’s why I had to come down here. I’ve got a bit of a hard time finding your surgery. This hospital looks like a maze. I even tried to enter through the wrong gate. What I believe was a porter told me that I was trying to enter through the A&E main door. Fortunately, he pointed me towards the right direction. I’ve got a very bad sense of orientation you see.
DOCTOR: I know it might be a bit difficult to work out where our hospital surgery is. I’m glad you’ve made it Mr Anderson and you’re here now.
Doctor Wallace told me that you’ve been experiencing pain in your chest. Is that correct?
PATIENT: Yes, and in my arm as well and my fingers tingle a little sometimes.
DOCTOR: I see. When did you first notice this sort of pain?
PATIENT: Well, I suppose about five moths ago.
DOCTOR: Can you remember when it first came on? What were you doing?
PATIENT: Yes, I remember. I was on High Street and I was shopping with my niece Hattie. It was like a stubbing pain. It was so bad I couldn’t breathe and …
DOCTOR: And where, in which part of your chest did you feel the pain? Can you point at it for me, please?
PATIENT: Well, it was right across my chest.
DOCTOR: How long did the pain last?
PATIENT: It’s hard to tell but it must have been for around ten minutes.
DOCTOR: And what did you do when it happened?
PATIENT: I stopped and waited for it to go away
DOCTOR: Have you had this pain again?
PATIENT: Yes, I have. I often get it when I overdo things.
DOCTOR: Well, I think at this stage I’d like to examine your chest. So, if you could please strip to your waist, thank you.
PATIENT: Right, there we go.
DOCTOR: First of all, I’m going to check your pulse. That’s quite normal, seventy-two per minute.
DOCTOR: Now your blood pressure. Don’t worry if the tourniquet gets a bit tight around your forearm, just try to relax
PATIENT: That’s all right.
DOCTOR: Your blood pressure’s fine. It’s 130 over 80 so that’s quite normal too.
PATIENT: Glad to hear that, doctor.
DOCTOR: Now, I’m going to listen to your heart so I want you to breathe normally. Your heart sounds quite normal.
PATIENT: Well, that’s a relief.
DOCTOR: Well, now I want you to take deep breaths in and out while I check your lungs. In and out, that’s it! Fine! They’re completely clear.
It looks like the pain you’ve been experiencing is due to angina and this happens when not enough oxygen is getting to your heart.
Now I’d like to have a look at a few tests so I’ll be able to advise some treatment for you.
- Not exactly
- That means that I look after patients who’ve had surgery or minor procedures
- Yes, I know. It might be a bit hard sometimes
- Yeah, I know. It can be a bit confusing at times
- I can imagine Mr McGarry
- Please feel free to tell me what’s bothering you
- I know it might be a bit difficult to work out where our hospital surgery is
- So, if you could please strip to your waist, thank you
- Just try to relax
- Well, now I want you to take deep breaths in and out while I check your lungs
- I want you to breathe normally
Talking the patient through the examination
- Well, I think at this stage I’d like to examine your chest
- First of all, I’m going to check your pulse
- Don’t worry if the tourniquet gets a bit tight around your forearm
- Now, I’m going to listen to your heart
- Now I’d like to have a look at a few tests so I’ll be able to advise some treatment for you
Reassuring the patient
- That’s quite normal
- Your blood pressure’s fine
- We When did you first notice this sort of pain?
- Can you remember when it first came on?
- Where, in which part of your chest did you feel the pain?
- How long did the pain last?
- Have you had this pain again?
 to work out: trying to understand something
Centre Manager presso Medical English Service Network
- English for medical professionals. Laren Kolberg.