Mechanics and Surgeons
I picked up my car from the mechanic yesterday, and I was reminded of the classical stereotype of a surgeon with no bedside manner, and a condescending air.
Our mechanic is an older guy from a Mediterranean ethnic background, and I’m sure that had some impact on his behaviour to me. Within minutes of arriving to pick up the car with my husband, he had started discussing me and my driving with my hubby. I felt like a 50s hausfrau, a kept woman.
I have since been examining my negative reaction, and I guess I can’t get insulted about the suggestion that I know nothing about cars, because I don’t. But I am insulted by being treated like a child, and condescended to.
It strikes me that this is the exact situation many patients are in. I have recently had a bout as a patient consumer, and it didn’t really bother me, partially because I am familiar with the institutions, and I can trust well-chosen doctors and take their advice.
Untrained patients have no idea about medical details, physiology, anatomy and pathology. Most don’t understand the concept of risk. Perhaps there is also the assumption that we are out to rip them off, like mechanics. If patients can’t trust, they must always be double-thinking, checking up with their neighbours and the internet, and other sources. You add a busy, tired surgeon into the mix, and you get someone who is (sometimes) vague, is not always sure in themselves what the treatment is, and I can understand the seed of the stereotype.
I can’t help but wonder why surgeons are targeted more than other doctors, though. Are we less decisive? More untrustworthy? Look richer? Less able to communicate with normal people?