Bioethics Discussion Blog: Being Hugged By Your Doctor: Invasion of Privacy vs Sign of Compassion?





Friday, November 09, 2007

Being Hugged By Your Doctor: Invasion of Privacy vs Sign of Compassion?

According to the article in Fox News "Affectionate students are feeling the squeeze around the country as their displays of affection land them in trouble with school administrators." Even if the intent is to express, though the act of a hug, a social connection with their peers on the school grounds, this behavior may be considered sexual harassment. I find this news story has directed me to consider something some of us doctors do as part of being a humanistic human being beyond simply a doctor of medicine. Some of us actually hug our patients or patients' family members. We hug, not out of sexual excitement or anticipation, but out of a sense of the need to express directly compassion and support at the time of a patient crisis. Is hugging a patient professional? Does it exceed boundaries of professional behavior? Does it invade the patient's privacy? Should doctors first ask the patient "may I hug you?" and wait for permission? When you are upset and in distress and need the attention and compassion of someone who shows that he or she cares about your feeling, should you or would you accept a hug from your doctor even without them asking? ..Maurice.


At Saturday, November 10, 2007 7:26:00 PM, Blogger #1 Dinosaur said...

Yes I hug,when I feel it's part of the therapeutic interaction. My "protocol" is to say, "Do you need a hug?" in a neutral enough tone so that "yes" and "no" are equally acceptable answers, which I then honor.

It was a patient several years ago who taught me the "right" way to hug: no pounding (conveys hostility); if you must, a slight rubbing of the back, though no movement is best. Let the patient release first.

I believe it works well for me.

At Saturday, November 10, 2007 9:11:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Thanks for the protocol. Has a patient ever hugged you and, if so, how did you react? ..Maurice.

At Sunday, November 11, 2007 12:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have one doctor that gives a light hug when I see him and I only interpret this warm gesture to mean that he's happy to see me. He's been treating me for 25 years, so it started when I was much younger. And this doc is my gynecologist.

At Sunday, November 11, 2007 9:41:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't mind getting a hug from my health care provider, and sometimes look forward to it. It usually makes me feel better. I think hugs and such non-sexual signs of affection can add to or be just as therapeutic as to whatever primary intervention is being provided by that health practitioner. I don't remember ever feeling worse or doubtful, after a hug or a pat on my shoulder, etc., from my doctor or therapist. I only remember feeling better and more connected, as a fellow human and as a client.

At Monday, November 12, 2007 9:39:00 AM, Blogger JenL said...

In my medical role I have to violate all sorts of physical/social boundaries (I am a surgeon). People frequently feel extremely vulnerable, and I don't want to make anyone any more uncomfortable.

I feel the same way about hugging as I do about prayer (not to open up another ethical discussion that you've probably already had). If a patient wants to hold my hands and pray in the preop area, then that is fine with me. I don't feel it would be appropriate for me to propose a prayer (or a hug). What if they say yes, but they wanted to say no? What if they say no, then worry about how that would affect their care?

I make a point of shaking hands when meeting a patient, and of touching their shoulder/etc when rounding. I have no problem hugging a patient, but I let them initiate it. It feels more respectful.

At Monday, November 12, 2007 10:26:00 AM, Blogger Medliorator said...

If we are to gage the appropriate use of hugs in the clinic on a case by case basis, then a degree of situational intuition proves useful. Some physicians have a better sense of the hug's appropriateness than others. What is the best way to develop this skill of intuition? What situations or exercises would be most useful to novice physicians in developing their sense of situational boundaries?

At Monday, November 12, 2007 5:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with j1lane. I am uncomfortable initiating a hug. If the patient initiates it, it's OK. But even then I have gotten hugs that made me uncomfortable, and the patient may realize it. That would just make the situation worse.

At Tuesday, November 13, 2007 8:26:00 AM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Steve Wear, an ethicist, from the University at Buffalo wrote the following Hugging Intervention Analysis to a bioethics listserv. Steve has given me permission to post that Analysis here. I suspect that Steve's tongue is in his cheek or what do you think? ..Maurice.

Proposed Intervention: a hug

Indications for intervention: patient or family member who is devastated/distraught/otherwise needs warm fuzzy

Potential Benefit(s): patient or family member consoled/reassured/warm fuzzy level elevated

Potential Risk(s): patient annoyed/embarrassed/feels personal space violated/cultural values affronted/patient is a creepo and you’ve just set him or her off/you get sued, fired, or lectured by some suit.

Counter-indications for intervention:

(1) Hugger does not know patient

(2) Patient has somehow seen you coming and requested a DNH (Do Not Hug) up front

(3) Hugger is doing it to satisfy his/her own needs, e.g. his/her words caused the devastation, he/she thinks it’s cool to hug patients, the hugger needs a hug him/herself for some other reason not related to the patient

(4) Hugger has instinct or intuition that patient needs a hug: just think of all the weird instincts/intuitions folks have, e.g. patients don’t want the truth, etc., etc. Hug must be evidenced based.

(5) Hugger is a sexual predator or prevert (sounds more apt than pervert), and this is his/her opening gambit

(6) Huggee is a radical autonomist, capitalist or “self made” person (Right, Eric… hugs for them?)

Staging of hug:

(1) Attempt brief touch at end of patient’s upper extremity, i.e. hand (if he/she withdraws quickly, then don’t proceed; if he/she reaches out for approaching hand like it is a life line, all’s well; if he/she gives you a cold fish, ???

(2) If initial overture goes well, attempt shoulder or arm squeeze; if accepted:

(3) Attempt sideways, non-chest to chest hug; if accepted:

(4) Attempt full chest to chest embrace (What’s wrong with this picture?)

Credentialing for hug procedure:

(1) at least 6 hugs given to a fellow hug trainees without evidence of nausea/vomiting/annoyance/outrage/request for DNH

(2) Must swear under oath that one is not a prevert, Virtue ethics advocate, or serial hugger/warm fuzzy nut;

(3) Undergo substantial psychoanalysis to determine if need to hug is part of some pathology on part of the hugger.

Question: do we thus need some form of blanket at-admission informed consent for this? Or should this be negotiated with the patient during the initial interview? (Since a full chest to chest embrace might actually occur, minimizing the potential significance of the intervention seems inappropriate, so some sort of prior permission seems indicated). Or do we need an informed consent for each intervention?

Are we moving toward closure here?

At Wednesday, November 14, 2007 10:48:00 AM, Blogger Ed said...

Perhaps the Los Angeles answer is atypical of the rest of the country. Here in Connecticut I'd prefer that the doctor not handle me, save for diagnostically-useful handling.

At Sunday, December 16, 2007 4:33:00 AM, Blogger eryn said...

As a patient, i've never been hugged by a doctor. I do really appreciate it if they touch my arm or pat my back though (at the appropriate time). A great gesture of support and empathy.I think that a full hug might be a bit of invasion of personal space.

As a medical student im really cautious in this area. i dont want something i do to be construed as sexual misconduct so the most i would do is touch someone on the arm or shoulder.

On a related issue, what do you think about doctors kissing babies who are their patients? Is it inappropriate? Is it bad hygeine?

At Sunday, December 16, 2007 7:30:00 AM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Eryn, it IS bad hygiene. I can't see how it is not. The mother may be exposed to and carry respiratory viruses of one or two children. A physician may repeatedly examine many children throughout the day and pose as a significant potential carrier. At least this is only my assumption since I haven't accessed any empirical data. However, in any event, a physician need not kiss a baby to show interest, compassion or whatever, including amusing the infant. Let the mother do that. The doctor should find less risky ways of doing the same thing. Would a little tickle around the umbilicus with a chuckle be appropriate? A doctor needs to behave, not just act, empathetic, trusting and caring beyond a kiss to an infant or even a hug to an adult. ..Maurice.

At Tuesday, December 18, 2007 1:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my ortho DRs today was explaining about the ASIS to me (in regards to a surgery I had), which we had previously discussed and I previously demonstrated knowledge of the location of, but he insisted on showing me where it is located again...on himself. I am a female patient, and after he loosened his surgical pants low enough to expose his ASIS, he then directed me to touch him to feel where the tendon goes across. My spouse was with me, but we both thought it was rather odd...I've been to lots of ortho DRs, none ever did this before, even those whom I've known for much longer.

What do you think about this?

At Tuesday, December 18, 2007 12:29:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

For those who are not anatomists or surgeons ASIS is the anterior superior iliac spine of the pelvic bone, the most upper portion of the hip that can be felt from the front. It is about at the level of the umbilicus.

I am not sure what to make of your story. The surgeon must have had some need to be sure you understood the anatomy. As long as he didn't expose or have you palpate his genitals, I suppose it might be not unprofessional. It was probably easier and quicker to expose his ASIS at the time than yours. However, your scenario is interesting and pertinent to the topic here. In your experience, you may have felt that you were invading the doctor's "private space" by examining him, whereas when the doctor hugs you, he or she is invading your private space. To some patients, neither is necessarily comfortable. ..Maurice.

At Monday, December 31, 2007 2:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My doctor has been my doctor for nearly 21 years, and in that time I have initiated hugging him a few times. Do I think it inappropriate? Not even slightly. My doctor has never initiated a hug himself, but sometimes I'm so grateful towards him for his understanding it's just a natural humanistic reaction when you have a long-term relationship with your doctor, you end up caring about each other. How could a non-sexual hug with somebody you care about possibly feel wrong. I would also be very accepting and appreciative if he were the one to initiate a hug. I know there would be nothing sexual or anything inappropriate intended.

At Wednesday, April 02, 2008 11:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hugging is great. We were discussing it tonight, and all agreed that you could tell the "non-hugger" right away. You can tell by the body languge shown proir to, or more so, the embrace that you get in return, if the person is a hugger.
Or as one put it "I don't just hug...I embrace."

At Friday, April 04, 2008 7:36:00 PM, Blogger HIHI said...

Is this right? My children's doctor has hugged me face to face, kissed me on the forehead, and came up behind me while i was dressing the baby and hugged me from the back.

At Tuesday, June 03, 2008 5:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been hugged, without invitation, by ONE doctor (my maxilofacial surgeon) ...and it was the right thing for me at the time. (probably for him too..I am NOT an easy patient!)
I had just finished a long and stressful time that, on more than one occasion, threw me into hysterics in front of nurses and the doctor. He (the doc) was firm yet compassionate with me, in order to do what was needed, done as easily and quickly as possible. And when the ordeal was finally over, the doctor and I had a good solid, spontaneous, hug! Why? Because we had shared and survived a long (over months) and grueling ordeal together. We were BOTH relieved to have it over with LOL.

I have been hugged and/or given a quick rub of the back by other doctors (hugs after asking). I have experienced lingering warm holding of hands and an arm rub too. It really DOES help!! I prefer a doc that touches (males and female docs alike)...even if its just a quick rub of my foot as they stand at the end of my hospital bed.

As I read near the beginning of this thread...I agree with the asking of the simple question "Do you need/want a hug"?

I have never refused one, and have never been uncomfortable with it.(in fact, in answer to the question, I fell into my general doc so hard one time that I knocked him a bit off balance!) He even hugged my hubby that day.

But I believe it takes knowing your patient well, to even ask the question. I HAVE had doctors that, if they had asked, my response would have been a resounding "NO"!

I am due for my yearly "barbarism" (No, I don't think very highly of yearlys for women) and my female doctor wont be allowed to hug me. After, what I consider to be a barbaric and demoralizing event, a yearly IS NOT an appropriate time or place for hugs. Just do it, get it over with, get out, and let me go home (and for GODS sake, don't make small talk while you are down there!)....however, after my hysterectomy (same doc) I was glad to receive a hug from her and the male doctor who she assisted in my LSH/BSO

These hugging events were sincere, and told me that the doctor cared, and understood that I was more than some mundane thing to be fixed and shoved out the door. I am a person..physically AND emotionally.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is this...there is a time and place for it. Asking in a tone that does not covey an expectation of an answer in either direction is a good start. And don't bother in a situation that you know the patient was made to feel violated or embarrassed. Just let them go home..hug next time, when the situation is not so mortifying.

I would like to pose a question of my own before I finish....Someone in the thread used the term "Warm Fuzzy"
Do doctors ever need a warm fuzzy from a patient? I'm sure my maxilofacial surgeon did after months of having "mrs psychotic" in his care for months on end..but is it a common occurrence for a DOC to need that hug from ME?

Mrs Psycotic!

At Tuesday, June 03, 2008 8:32:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Mrs Psychotic, to answer your question, I think a warm and fuzzy hug from a patient is necessary for the emotional and mental health of the physician. Why?, you might ask. One way to think about the doctor-patient relationship is that it really is a rather intimate relationship with the doctor obtaining very personal information from the patient, having the legal freedom and responsibiity to perform initimate physical examinations on their patients and walk with the patient through the ups and downs of an illness. Throughout it all the physician has to maintain a professional appearance and behavior with no display of the initmacy which is occuring. The doctor not able to demonstrate closeness to the patient. Surely as with all intimate relationships, the parties want to be shown they are wanted and cared for. I think most physicians want that too and that is why the intimate response by the patient through hugging is such a revelation. It's all about intimacy of the relationship but the requirement of the physician to avoid displaying the emotions of intimacy to the patient and avoiding to accept gross expressions of intimacy by the patient. So a little hug by a patient means a lot to a doctor. Anyway, this is my theory. ..Maurice.

At Wednesday, June 04, 2008 6:26:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious...

I have red through all of the posts, and I don't think anyone has presented the problem of hero worship (i.e.; obsession) toward a doctor.

Although I am a very needy person with a scary and quirky set of emotions, and a need for physical contact even if its just a quick pat/rub on the back, I myself have never put a doctor through that. I have never felt compelled to.

There WAS a wonderful doctor I had when I was 19, and he in his later 20's I believe, that I was very interested in, but not because of any medical care or perceived heroics he administered. He was just a very sweet, compassionate, and handsome man.
Knowing that a relationship outside of his office was a "no-no" for him, I never told him how I felt. Although I often wonder if he knew.
As we each married and began our families (our kids were even born around the same time), I continued to see him professionally (he is a specialist). I do believe that we have become friends of sorts. Now one of my children sees him too. Unfortunately its for the same reason I needed his care. So although my reason for seeing him no longer exists, I do have occasion to chat with him.

How easy it would have been to attempt a personal relationship with him. (ok, maybe there WAS a little hero worship going one else seemed to know what to do for me back then)

So here is my question..I'm not the most, um, stable person in the world (never have been), yet I had the ability to keep control and not let it "go there"

However, there are people who are so much more emotionally stable than myself who cant stop themselves from acting upon their feelings, thus putting a doctor through that nightmare.

How on earth does a doctor recognize and deflect that kind of behavior from a seemingly normal patient, when I'm sure they are more expectant of it from a patient like me, a clingy needy leach? Doctors must get helplessly blind sided by it!

Wouldn't the caring touch/hugs be a dangerous thing for doctors to practice when patients can obviously be so unpredictable?

Mrs Psychotic!

At Sunday, June 22, 2008 9:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just Curious

Does anyone think that this sounds normal...My obgyn doc (whom I have been seeing for seven years), has started to become more "touchy feely" during visits. I really like this doctor and trust his opinion medically. I am wondering if he's just being friendly, or if there may be something else occuring. Some examples are: full frontal body hugs (he initiates), he grabbed and held my hands before a routine annual exam (no, I wasn't needing consolling or anything), putting his hand on my waist on two different occasions (like he was about to pull me close), patting my back, touching my hand while talking (he shook my hand like four times during one visit-seriously!), complementing my looks (you are beautiful, look good etc..), putting his arm around me and so on. I am in my thirties and the doc is in his forties (we're both married). I have a friend who also sees this doctor. She has never had him touch or hug her (even though they have a good doctor/patient relationship). I feel really bad thinking things about this nice man. I think I am probably overreacting, but would value other opinions!

Mrs. Confused

At Sunday, June 22, 2008 10:50:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Mrs, Confused, relieve your curiosity by talking to that doctor about the motivation for his touching behavior at the next time you experience it. His explanation may relieve your concerns. I realize that talking to a doctor about his behavior may be hard, but remember, the doctor-patient relationship is a 2 way relationship and you have as much reason to validate the keeping of the relationship as he has in observing and acknowledging your behavior for the same reason. ..Maurice.

At Monday, July 07, 2008 12:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this discussion. I need to 'fire' my ob-gyn this week. I set up an appointment to let him know why i'm leaving of course, but it will be a very difficult conversation to have. He is the best doctor I've ever had, and altough he never ASKED me if I wanted a hug, he's given me lots of them...and other 'tender' kind of touches (cup a cheek, rub and pat a thigh, cup the back of my neck, holding my hand). I've never felt creeped out by him, but (perhaps this is worse) instead I've become attracted to him.

It's probably just his personal style... he's a very well respected OB with a busy practice. But, almost all of the other women come with their husbands. I'm the 'oddball', over 35, single, expat (living in France).

Some of this might just be a cultural problem, undressing in front of the doctor is normal here, and there are no sheets and no nurse present. But, for me, all of that together with the touching leaves me VERY confused. I'll just simplify the problem by leaving, but I'll let him know why. I'd really prefer to know him as just a regular person instead of my doctor.


At Tuesday, December 23, 2008 10:57:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

i think this is a rather difficult issue to tackle, i can see both sides of the argument. as a blind person, i like some contact, (not personal), but some contact with my health profesional, for example, holding onto their hand or something.

At Tuesday, December 23, 2008 11:00:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

it depends on the situation, if the person has received some news that is difficult for them, then a doctor should try and reasure them by either holding their hand or hugging them. however, if it is just so that they can have a relationship with you, then it is not teh wayh to behave, as it should only be a profesional relationshop.

At Sunday, March 29, 2009 3:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My kids pediatrician has pek cheeks with me and my mom once, and pek cheeks with me on another visit during the 6 years that we knew him (since my first born). This past 3 months my son got his series of asthma flares and my daughter and I with bronchiolitis. He's been concerned of me and has listened to my back for wheezing and check ed my sore throat. He's also asked if my hubby had given me my valentines flowers yet as he rambles over his flowers to his wife. Another visit was I happen to mention that i had a stiff neck, he then asks if hubby massaged it yet, i said no then he neck/shoulder massage me (slide through the neckline of my turtleneck sweater) but then added other treatment suggestions such as aleve tylenol etc. Then there was the occassional yet in various occassions arm touch 3x, shoulder touch 2x. Next visit was he took my coat off my hands and hanged it for me, stood standing as if he was waiting for something so i initiated a bear hug and so he did. Then asks me if i have any other problems, i said im ok but thanked him for the neck massage. He then says to teach my kids how to neck massage me as he takes my 4 year old daughters hand and coached her to neck massage me (again with his hands neck massaging my left shoulder/neck). After this visit, he carried my daughter in his arms out to the sticker/lolly shelf (for the first time, which i thought was vip for a 4year old thereafter ). This latest visit was he held out his hand and pek cheeks before and after the visit. All these occured in these past three months. So help! Innocent? or am I magnifying/over reading or are my instincts correct. All input are highly appreciated.

At Sunday, March 29, 2009 7:20:00 AM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Again, I would advise, if you find this degree of contact uncomfortable simply mention this to the doctor in a casual informative manner. While the medical profession sets limits to what is considered proper professional behavior, every patient has the personal right to set their own more narrow limits if that would make them more comfortable in the doctor-patient relationship. ..Maurice.

At Sunday, March 29, 2009 1:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Maurice. Well I'm pretty comfortable really. I always thought he was a very "cool" doctor. I've never really have gotten any type of massage before and so maybe that was my shocker. I'm just extremely touched on how much he cared for us. I've heard that peds also treat some parents just to either pacify or help releive their anxieties. Otherwise, everything else is dandy. My kids love him.

At Tuesday, November 17, 2009 3:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been going to my OBGYN for many years and would always end our goodbyes with a handshake except for the last two visits. He hugged me which kept me wondering. Did he go to a seminar on "Better Bedside Manners for MDs"? I had to go back again yesterday and I stretched out my hand for a handshake but instead he gave me a hug. Both times that he hugged me I wasn't pouring my heart out or anything to warrant any smpathy from him. Just wondering about his hugs? Not a touchy feely hug, just put both arms around me. Is this their new - better and improved bedside manners? I didn't mind the hug, just didn't know what to do, I guess I just didn't expect it. LOL

At Tuesday, November 17, 2009 7:39:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Anonymous from 3:28pm today,would you feel uncomfortable to ask your doctor why he has started to hug you? I am sure that you could find the words to phrase the question in a neutral sort of way. You know, "I notice that you have changed from a handshake to a hug as I leave and I just wondered why the change.." or something like that, not encouraging more and not unsatisfied with less. ..Maurice.

At Wednesday, November 18, 2009 12:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to see him again in two weeks. I hope I get enough nerve to ask your question "I notice that you have changed from a handshake to a hug as I leave and I just wondered by the change." The first time he gave me a hug, I was still in my examining gown (sitting up on the examining table waiting for him to leave) but it was already after the nurse left. The following visit was when I had to get my test results (I was fully dressed then). Both times I extended my hand to say goodbye and both times he hugged me instead. Thanks Dr. Bernstein!

At Monday, January 18, 2010 9:46:00 PM, Blogger Ayanna said...

My doctor hugs me at the end of every appointment...I see her every 3 weeks. She started the hugs back in August of 2008 by standing next to me and put one arm around me. The next time I saw her I initiated the hug. If for whatever reason I'm not comfortable hugging her I can tell her that I don't feel like hugging her. But if I want an extra hug or two all I have to do is hug her and she'll hug me back. No questions asked. And if I'm having a hard time she'll either rub my back during the hug and/or gently rocks my upper body back and forth. It helps me feel better....especially when I'm dealing with depression or anxiety.

At Sunday, February 21, 2010 1:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been following up with my doctor twice a year for the last 4 years for the treatment of breast cancer. For most of the time he has always been very formal and professional until the last 4 office visits. He started to look me up and down as I enter the examination room. He also started to give me hugs. In the last two office visits he kissed me on the cheek. The discussion during the most recent office visits have mostly been personal in nature (families, job, kids...). After a recent office visit I was leaving the examining room when I realized I had an additional question for the doctor (general question regarding insurance claim). He became nervious and looked around in both directions to see if anyone was wathing us. I felt like I had done something wrong. I feel like there is something going on but I cannot figure it out. I hate to go looking for another doctor if this is really nothing. Can you explain?

At Thursday, February 25, 2010 2:00:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

i don't think it is anything for you to worry about, i think he is just caring for you as a person

At Sunday, March 28, 2010 5:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in a home where we hugged. I reserve handshakes for people I do not know or do not like!
If I know you and like you I prefer a hug. It tells me you feel the same. This includes doctors. I also recognize some people just do not like to hug. If I know this I refrain.
I recently had to have surgery. I shook the doctors hand (because I didn't know him yet). But after the difficult surgery was over and successful I was so relieved and he was so empathetic when he reached out to shake my hand I instead hugged him. Although I get the feeling he's not used to that. I view a hug as the product of a truly caring doctor!
Oma Jill

At Thursday, April 08, 2010 12:55:00 PM, Blogger Ayanna said...

I agree with Oma Jill about the hug being the product of a truly caring doctor. My previous doctor would shake my hand and call me "Sport" at the same time. Like I said a few months ago, the doctor I have now hugs me at the end of every appointment but now that I'm experiencing fears that have to do with her, she'll wait and see if I hug her instead of her initiating the hugs. I'm extremely touch sensitive because of "childhood trauma" and my doctor's hugs (the hugs and the rocking motion) are very therapeutic for me.

At Friday, May 20, 2011 12:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are doctors who hug out of compassion, empathy or to put a patient at ease. The people who try to read more into a hug, flatter themselves.
''I LOVE YOU'' from both spouses was normal and patients. We knew we had the best care from the best earth could offer WE ARE GROWING TOGETHER, GETTING USED TO THE PEOPLE WE'LL SPEND ETERNITY WITH. Sometimes you'd hear ''DR. or MS.'', USUALLY IT WAS ''BROTHER OR SISTER''. I've been hugged by OTHER DR'S also but I've never considered it to be more than sayin:'' I CARE...I'LL DO MY BEST FOR YOU''. THANK YOU DOCTORS FOR THE HUGS, THE PATS AND THE RUBS.
I apologize for salacious minds that accuse you or your patients of less than irreproahable morals. from: DESIDERATA

At Saturday, September 24, 2011 9:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was seeing a surgeon who didn't have the greatest bedside manners for my first two appts. At the time I was going through domestic abuse, a secret I hid for 3 years at the time. I was starting to break apart from all the abuse and some inner voice said tell this doctor. I told him
and he responded compassionately. I required surgery due to some abuse injuries. He was always encouraging me I'll get through this, protective in a fatherly way. Hold my hand, pat on the arm often. He helped me for almost a year and decided to retire. I asked him if it would be okay to give him a hug. He said of course. It lasted a few minutes, not a tight hug . I started to let go, he dropped his arms and stepped back a foot. Maybe he has never received or given a hug with regards to patients. Other patients felt his bedside manners were poor, not a nice doctor etc. This doctor healed me both medically and


At Saturday, April 21, 2012 4:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When my husband's Dr. told me that my husband had only a few days left to live, he hugged me tightly, and I hugged him tightly as well, and he released as soon as I patted him on his back. I appreciated his humanity and compassion very much. I don't have a problem hugging people, and during that time it helped to know that he had such tender feelings for us. I prefer positive feelings for people regardless of their roll in my life. I'll remember that Dr. very fondly, even lovingly, and I'm thankful for his ability to remember to help heal the broken heart that's standing on the side line. Maybe I encouraged him as well.

At Saturday, April 21, 2012 7:32:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

JTR, I hope you also know that, in a way, with your hug, you were also providing evidence of your humanity and compassion to this doctor of his dying patient. What goes on emotionally in such a clinical situation is not a "one way street". The doctor is human and when he or she finally finds that their goal of patient recovery is an impossibility, then the doctor may wonder could have been done differently and may have a sadness to the loss for which your hug become therapeutic. It shows to the doctor that you accept what is happening and that you are supporting the doctor. This couldn't be a better feeling for a doctor at this time. ..Maurice.

At Sunday, February 09, 2014 11:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see an orthopedic and our first couple if appointments got off to a rocky start. I had a second surgery and things seemed to approve at my first followup. I was going through a personal matter relating to a medical issue. I asked him if he had time for one more thing. Yes. I was in a chair, he sat on his stool directly in front of me, a foot away. Open posture, legs apart, hands on his knees, looking right at me. I told him what I needed to say. He commented on a few tests etc he would send me for. I'm quiet, somewhat anxious person. So when he sat like he did it made me feel comfortable. A part of me wanted a hug but I wasn't sure if it would be appropriate to ask. On surgery day he spoke to me at the hospital about the procedure. Gave me a little wink when he left. Unless this doctor senses I'm nervous and quiet trying to make me comfortable.

At Wednesday, May 07, 2014 8:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think in the right situation a hug can make all the difference. I have had a hug on more than one occasion and every time I have been so thankful for it. Sometimes a hug says more than any words can and it is nice to know someone understands and cares. I know it is not for everyone but it has made me feel so much better.

At Sunday, April 26, 2015 9:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been seeing several doctors for months now, and I have quite good connection to some of them (or at least at my end) that always make me want to hug them every time I saw them. It's out of gratitude of course, but it is also because of the way they interact with me. So if my doctor initiate a hug, I would gladly accept and reciprocate it, especially I won't mind seeing them as a person with feeling and not just a clinical one. ~R

At Wednesday, May 13, 2015 8:12:00 PM, Blogger anonymous one said...

I was sent to an orthopedic for an older upper arm injury. My first visit he was professional yet gentle with his examination and mannerisms. During the examination he said I looked quite tense. I do get anxious around doctors due to a few bad past experiences yet I clammed up and didn't respond After surgery, a few weeks later, I had my first follow up. This time he appeared to be more brusque with his examination and manners. While quickly looking at the closed incisions, I mentioned I developed pneumonia few days after
surgery. He grimaced, mentioned coughing while healing from arm surgery, gave me a single pat on the shoulder. That quick pat helped ease anxiety and I'm guessing he was showing empathy. I think it's perfectly okay to pat or hold a patient's hand. I have never hugged or been hugged by a doctor. If I was asked I would okay with it.

At Thursday, September 17, 2015 2:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never asked for a hug or been offered one by a doctor. The surgeon I see usually stands or sits a good distance from me while explaining things. The only time he is closer is when examining. I tend to become tense around doctors because of a few past bad experiences. I noticed at my latest appointment the surgeon sat on the exam bed ( I was sitting on it) next to me , approximately 2 feet away. He examined, talked a bit, and gave me a single light pat with his fingers only , not full hand,on the black of my shoulder. He did this a few times during the appointment after examining me-standing near me , sitting on the exam bed by me. I didn't feel creeped out with him sitting near me or the pats. It's possible he sensed my anxiety and was trying to make me comfortable.?

If I felt a creepy vibe I wouldn't feel comfortable with a pat or touch to the shoulder etc. But I didn't get that creepy vibe at all from the surgeon.



At Friday, September 18, 2015 7:50:00 PM, Blogger Hexanchus said...

The responses here are pretty much all over the map, as I would expect.

I think it depends on both the person and the situation.

For me the doctor/patient relationship is strictly professional, and my sole expectation is for the physician to courteously and respectfully provide information I need in order for me to make decisions regarding my health care.

It's OK to be courteous and friendly, but not to the point of unwanted contact. A hand-shake is fine, but I am not comfortable with any violation of my personal space beyond that without my explicit permission and I would not allow it. You can be kind, caring and compassionate without being "touchy-feely".


At Monday, March 21, 2016 6:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently had another appointment with my surgeon. Once again I sat on the exam bed. Instead of the usual standing near me to examine like other doctors have, he sat on the bed beside me within two to three feet and proceeded to examine the problem area. When he was done he gave a light single pat with finger tips, and a quick light caress/stroke to the back of my shoulder. This was the second time he's done this, except for the caress. I feel anxious around doctors although I try to hide it. Maybe he sensed I was anxious and trying to show reassurance or support. I didn't feel uncomfortable with his actions.


At Sunday, May 15, 2016 2:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Three weeks ago I had surgery on my arm, I'm not one who expresses my feelings easily. The surgeon and anesthesiologist decided to freeze the area and give me light sedation. While I was being prepped , laying down on the surgical bed, my surgeon asked how are things. I blurted I'm nervous. He proceeded to touch the front, top of my shoulder, rubbed and patted it on and off a few times. He looked at me without smiling. The shoulder touch put me at ease. I agree supportive or reassuring touch can be beneficial.

At Saturday, January 07, 2017 4:10:00 AM, Anonymous Shivam Rana said...

There are a great deal of inquiries that gone through a lady’s mind each time a man plays with her hair, tries to make her chuckle, gets her a drink or her man touches her knee while talking.

At Saturday, January 07, 2017 6:20:00 PM, Blogger Kayla said...

That's not true and you know it!

At Saturday, January 07, 2017 6:23:00 PM, Blogger Kayla said...

If you think someone has a crush on you don't hug them!


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