The atmosphere in the room was one of shock. The silence was broken as the patient started crying. It was the first consultation of its kind I had seen—although one of many similar ones that were to come—and you would be forgiven for thinking devastating news had been broken. I now realise, in many ways, it had. Diagnosis: normal.
I didn’t understand the patient. Wasn’t being told, “there is nothing wrong with you” the outcome every patient would hope for, news that you can stop the tests and leave the clinic with no foreseeable return? Of course, the reality is different and this situation is often an unsatisfactory outcome for the patient and doctor alike.
The patient has visited the doctor as they feel unwell in some way. Being told they are well doesn’t mean that they will feel it. For the doctor, there is little satisfaction in telling someone