Case vignette

Recognizing a patient as a whole person to attend to their needs.

Inclusive Language Illustration

Recognizing a patient as a whole person to attend to their needs.

A patient sees their new primary care provider following a recent stroke.

Doctor

Hi, I’m your doctor, Dr. Mbue and my pronouns are she and her. I’m going to be asking about your body, health, and life. Let’s start with you telling me what you think I should know about your current situation.

Patient

I used to be a construction worker and I loved it. I want to go back to work because I feel like it’s my duty. It’s not fair… now I need my family to do everything for me.

Doctor

That sounds frustrating.

Patient

I lost my job, my ability to walk, to play basketball, and to hang out with my friends whenever I want to. My wife and daughters don’t know how to act around me anymore… they’re either overly protective or just don’t know what to say.

Doctor

It seems that you’re struggling to adapt to this drastic change in lifestyle and I want to recognize the difficulty in that, in addition to acknowledging your courage for being this vulnerable with me during our first session.

Patient

I’m stuck at home all day and I feel guilty that I can’t use my body to support my family anymore.

Doctor

This may be by far one of the biggest challenges you’ve ever faced, and I’m here to help. I’m going to repeat what you’ve told me thus far and from there we can co-create a treatment plan so that you can one day be a provider to your family again. Please let me know if I misinterpret anything.

Patient

Thank you…no doctor has ever talked or listened to me like this before.

Doctor

Patient

Doctor

Patient

Doctor

Patient

Things to consider.

01

Good, patient-centered communication can translate to better quality care which can have a positive impact during the clinical encounter and leave less room for medical errors.

02

Committing to inclusive language is an ongoing journey that we will sometimes get wrong. Pushing through that discomfort and trying new ways of communication can help everyone feel seen, heard, respected, and included.

Question to think about:

How do you implement effective communication strategies and inclusive language throughout the clinical encounter?

Ask for pronouns
Ask how the patient is doing
Ask for consent before touching
All of the above