The Eufemio creed: Doctors are healers
(Last of four parts)
When Cardinal Santos Medical Center (CSMC) honored surgical oncologist Dr. George Eufemio posthumously with the “Teacher-Healer” award, his son, sports medicine surgeon Dr. Edgar “Gar” shared fond memories and concluded, “Years from now, when they award the next set of winners, you’ll see the list of awardees and remember that they were and are great teachers and your memories of them will come back. Then you’ll realize how big an influence they’ve been in your careers. This award should inspire us and remind us that we are here as doctors to teach and to heal.
“Daddy wasn’t the father I thought I needed. But he was a far better role model, teacher, mentor, idol than I ever deserved.”
Today, Gar is at the top of his field, and with well-earned influence, like his father, he openly speaks out about things that matter. A wide reader, Gar supplements his practice by reflecting on the wisdom of doctors who truly care.
In their book “When Doctors Don’t Listen,” doctors Leana Wen and Joshua Kosowsky discuss the four ages of medicine: spiritual healing and magical thinking with shamans and faith healers; early empiricism and disease classification with natural history and disease description ala Hippocrates; the golden age of medical diagnosis in the spirit of William Osler, who said that the best medical text is the patient, with family doctors and general practitioners; and our current era of depersonalized diagnosis, which has become defensive or cookbook medicine.
Gar quotes Wen and Kosowsky: “Fear of missing a serious diagnosis, however improbable, dominates medical decision-making to the exclusion of common sense and the patient’s best interest. Doctors, by and large, are well intentioned. They went into medicine for the right reasons, and they are trying to do their best. It’s the modern system of medical training that drills cookbook recipes into them and trains them to miss diagnoses. Medical practice has gotten further and further away from true patient-centered care.”
“Our goal is to involve our patients in the decision-making process and to empower them to make decisions based on what’s right for them. Errors happen when decisions are made by reflex rather than through reflection.”
In his book “The Doctor Will See You Now,” UK physician Max Pemberton points out the dangers of how medicine is increasingly practiced today: with emphasis on bureaucratic optimization and businesslike administration, where patient care merely an afterthought.
Pemberton says, “There has been a subtle shift in power over the past few years away from the clinicians—who are presumably far too bothered about the welfare of patients to run things efficiently—and towards managers, who have no such concerns.”
“He talks about England,” Gar says, “but it also sounds a lot like various health centers in the Philippines now.”
Ultimately, healing patients, one by one, is what keeps Gar going. “We are raised to appreciate the value of hard work, to come up with the next big thing, to be relevant in this world and to affect as many individuals as we can. In the end, we do not have to be part of the lives of millions of people. We just need to touch the hearts of a few—profoundly!” Channeling his father, Gar tells his students today about what they owe their patients: “treat them in the best possible way using evidence-based medicine, treat them as you would a family member (whom you love), and give them hope. The last is the most important.”
Queena N. Lee-Chua is with the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her book “All in the Family Business” at Lazada or Shopee, or the ebook at Amazon, Google Play, Apple iBooks. Contact the author at [email protected]
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