“Thank you very much for allowing me to see this pleasant patient,” is the concluding sentence of a report sent to one of my doctors. What interesting word usage! Somehow I had the notion that one doctor writing a report back to a referring doctor would just summarize the testing that was done and interpret the results. The addition of one little adjective makes me reflect back on that day and think, “That doctor was pretty nice, even if the tests weren’t so fun.”

I’ve read so many places that patients should keep their own copy of all their medical records, that I finally requested copies.  I’m not sure why the original in my doctor’s office isn’t sufficient, but if it’s in my best interests I can keep my own copies – of some things, anyhow.  I can’t for the life of me figure out why I should need records from 15 years ago, so just requested recent info.  It was interesting comparing the “official” progress notes against my own appointment notes.  I’m glad that I did it.  The same word turned up again: “O: NAD, pleasant female.”  Unless pleasant has become a code word meaning just the opposite, I think I like it.

And I’m wondering if adjective usage will change as more and more individuals ask to view their records. Will doctors (or their scribes) be less inclined to make note of surliness, knowing that the patient might object to the comment?  Or note it more often if it’s a patient that they wish would go elsewhere?  Will they be more inclined to use positive words if they realize that it might make a difference in how patients view them?

My reaction to this puzzles me.  I always thought that I couldn’t care less what is written in my chart, as long as the doctor can figure out what’s wrong and come up with an effective treatment plan.  But I’ve discovered that I feel more positively about the people involved in my care who noticed that I made an effort to be nice, even when I didn’t feel well.

Hooray for adjectives!