Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it

1:31:00 AM

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"Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it". This is a very familiar quote by Edward Burke. I guess this was the take home lesson from my patient history taking experience today. I interviewed a patient from the Otorhinolaryngology ward of the Philippine General Hospital for my IDC 202: Art of Medicine Class. This was my first legit patient history taking experience. Well, I have seen a doctor do history taking before but this experience was memorable because I was the one who performed the history taking. The preceptor for our group was Dr. Chit Ricalde. She taught us the basics of history taking and then each person was assigned to one patient for this activity.

I was relaxed and comfortable during the history taking because I have tried interviewing patients before. I have joined Gospel sharing and outreaches in different hospitals here in Manila organized by the church that I am attending and different student organizations. The only difference now was that there were guide questions to be asked to the patients. It was more structured now. Aside from the fact that my love language is words of affirmation, I really love talking to people. I love hearing stories from other people because I learn a lot from their experiences. Also, these stories give me ideas about short stories that I can write.

I was assigned to one patient with a mass on her left cheek. She was scheduled for an operation tomorrow to remove the mass. She said the pathologist did not confirm if the mass was actually a tumor. But she said that her doctors ordered that the mass has to be surgically removed. The patient had a history of cancer on her right cheek almost 20 years ago but it was surgically removed and she underwent cobalt treatment. After getting all of the needed information, I thanked my patient and prayed for her. I know that it was not by accident that I am assigned to my patient because she is also an evangelical Christian. So before I left her, I prayed for her. I am blessed with our short encounter because she has great faith on the Lord. I am blessed to see her at peace and in comfort despite her condition because she knows that God is in control and sovereign over her life. She said that she submitted her life to the Lord. She's not afraid whatever happens to her because she knows that she has Jesus in her life.

After all of us finished the history taking, we went back to Dr. Ricalde to discuss about our insights from our first history taking with the patients. Most of us did not encounter problems during the history taking since the patients were all informed that we will interview them. But Dr. Ricalde said that it's different in other wards and other hospitals and that we might encounter several challenges and problems during history taking.  I guess all of us did well in the history taking because Dr. Ricalde gave good comments. She also gave constructive criticisms which were all very helpful. She also gave us tips on how to tackle certain problems and challenges during the history taking. We finished the activity with a group picture. Yehey!

Group picture with Dr. Chit Ricalde (c) Randell Kelvin Tan

Personally, I learned about the importance of history taking in medicine. It is very important for diagnosis and later on management of the patients. This is why I chose the quote of Edward Burke as the title of this post: "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it". Because if a doctor was not able to get all the information needed to diagnose the disease of the patient, that doctor has to repeat it. Otherwise, the health of the patient will be at risk. Correct and complete history taking leads to a timely and accurate diagnosis. This is cost-effective because it protects the patients from unnecessary diagnostic testings. I also learned the importance of building rapport, active listening and good communication with the patient. This reminded me of the importance of active participation of patients in their own healthcare. And this starts from listening closely to their concerns and complaints through performing comprehensive history taking.

I am looking forward to more patient interaction in the future. For now, let me study biochemistry and thorax for the exams next week. Thanks for reading. God bless you.

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