The Tao of patient-centered care

"Tao (pronounced "dao") means literally "the path" or "the way." It is a universal principle that underlies everything from the creation of galaxies to the interaction of human beings. The workings of Tao are vast and often beyond human logic. In order to understand Tao, reasoning alone will not suffice. One must also apply intuition." — Derek Lin Patient-centered care (aka client-centered care, patient-directed care, patient-driven care, etc.) has infused the published descriptions of today’s healthcare industry and professions.  National and world health organizations include patient-centered care as a hallmark of best practice. A casual medical database search of this term immediately yields articles in journals of nursing, dentistry, medical devices, surgery, social work, hand therapy, health management, primary medicine, behavioral medicine, rehabilitation, emergency medicine, mental health, occupational therapy, and many more. Yet, according to the same body of literature and my own observations, truly patient-centered care remains largely unpracticed. It consists of attitudes and actions that can be a challenge to live up to, an ideal to be ever sought and only attained through practice and diligence. True story:  A 17-year-old girl was admitted to a hospital psychiatric unit with terrifying hallucinations and delusions. She wept copiously and had not slept for days. She continuously prayed aloud or ruminated about having brought the Zika virus into the world. Her parents, immigrants from South America, were distraught, and asked to have their priest perform a rite of exorcism as soon as possible. The patient and parents were counseled about the neurobiological nature of schizophrenia and importance of medication, but remained firm in their request. The psychiatrist and team made this possible by providing a private area for the ceremony to take place, and interacting with [...]