Background reading material by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. for year 2 Semester 1 PPSD session of 01 November 2006



The physician-patient interaction is both professional and social. The bedside visit fulfills the brotherhood obligation of visiting the sick. The human relation with the patient comes before the professional technical relation. It is reassurance, psychological and social support, show of fraternal love, and sharing. A psychologically satisfied patient is more likely to be cooperative in taking medication, eating, or drinking. The following are recommended during a visit: greeting the patient, prayer for the patient, good encouraging words, asking about the patient’s feelings, doing good/pleasing things for the patient, making the patient happy, and encouraging the patient to be patient, discouraging the patient from wishing for death, advice for the patient, and reminding the patient about religious obligations. Caregivers should seek permission before touching or examining the patient. They should not engage in secret conversations that do not involve the patient.



The patient should express gratitude to the caregivers even if there is no physical improvement. Patient complaints should be for drawing attention to problems that need attention and not criticizing caregivers. The patient should be patient because there are blessings for those who surrender and persevere. The patient should make pray for himself, caregivers, visitors, and others. The patient should try his best to eat and drink although the appetite may be low. The caregivers can not force the patient to eat. They should try their best to provide the favorite food of the patient. The believing patient should never lose hope. He should never wish for death. The patient should try his best to avoid anger directed at himself or others. Getting angry is a sign of losing patience.



The caregiver should respect the rights of the patient regarding advance directives on treatment, privacy, access to information, informed consent, and protection from nosocomial infections. Caregivers must be clean and dress appropriately to look serious, organized and disciplined. They must be cheerful, lenient, merciful, and kind. They must enjoin the good, have good thoughts about the patients and avoid evil or obscene words. They must observe the rules of lowering the gaze and must avoid being alone with patients of the opposite gender. Caregivers must have an attitude of humbleness. They cannot be emotionally-detached in the mistaken impression that they are being professional. They must be loving and empathetic and show mercifulness but the emotional involvement must not go to the extreme of being so engrossed that rational professional judgment is impaired. They must make prayer for the patients. They must seek permission when approaching or examining patients. Medical care must be professional, competent, and considerate. Medical decisions should consider the balance of benefits and risks. The general position of the Law is to give priority to minimizing risk over maximizing benefit. Any procedures carried out must be explained very well to the patient in advance. The caregiver must never promise cure or improvement. The caregivers must listen to the felt needs and problems of the patients. They should ask about both medical and non-medical problems. Supportive care such as nursing care, cleanliness, physical comfort, nutrition, treatment of fever and pain are as important as the medical procedures themselves and are all what can be offered in terminal illness. Caregivers must reassure the patients not to give up hope. Measures should be taken to prevent nosocomial infections.




Both the caregiver and patient must cover nakedness as much as possible. However, the rules of covering are relaxed because of the necessity of medical examination and treatment. The benefit of medical care takes precedence over preventing the harm inherent in uncovering nakedness. When it is necessary to uncover nakedness no more than what is absolutely necessary should be uncovered. To avoid any doubts, patients of the opposite gender should be examined and treated in the presence of others of the same gender. The caregivers should be sensitive to the psychological stress of patients, including children, when their nakedness is uncovered. They should seek permission from the patient before they uncover their nakedness. Caregivers who have never been patients may not realize the depth of the embarrassment of being naked in front of others.



Medical co-education involves intense interaction between genders: Teacher-student, student-student, and teacher-teacher. Interacting with colleagues of the opposite gender raises special problems: norms of dress, speaking, and general conduct; class-room etiquette; social interaction; laboratory experiments on fellow students; clinical skills laboratory and learning clinical skills by examining other students; and standing together in a crowded operation theatre. Specific regulations should be in place dealing with all these issues.


Legal guidelines on interaction with patients of the opposite gender should be followed. Taking history, physical examination, diagnostic procedures, and operations should preferably be by a physician of the same gender. In conditions of necessity a physician of the opposite gender can be used and may have to look at the nakedness or touch a patient. The conditions that are accepted as constituting necessity are: skills and availability.



Visits by the family fulfill the social obligation of joining the kindred and should be encouraged. The families are honored guests of the hospital with all the rights of a guest. The caregiver must provide psychological support to family because they are also victims of the illness because they anxious and worried. They need reassurance about the condition of the patient within the limits allowed by the rules of confidentiality. The family can be involved in some aspects of supportive care so that they feel they are helping and are involved. They should however not be allowed to interrupt medical procedures. Caregivers must be careful not to be involved in family conflicts that arise from the stresses of illness.

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. November 2006