The “Quality of Life” Items Your Doctor Often Forgets

November 30, 2019

During my medical school and training, I, along with other medical professionals were taught how to properly analyze, diagnose, and treat a wide variety of disease processes. While learning “how to doctor,” patient encounters were typically rote and followed a fairly strict protocol and ritual: obtain a history, perform a physical exam, provide an assessment and plan, and ultimately administer medical or surgical treatment.

The goal of our management plans was to tackle and treat diseases effectively. And more often than not, outcomes were great. Patients with cancer were ultimately “cured.” Kidney stones were successfully removed. “Procedure X was a great success.” The problem, however, was that the patients we treated were still unhappy despite being “cured.”

What was missed along the process of treating and curing a patient was the failure in acknowledging their quality of life following their treatment: “Mr. Smith was promptly diagnosed and successfully cured of his prostate cancer. But in the meantime, he’s developed terrible urinary leakage and now has erectile dysfunction.”

Healthcare providers are oftentimes so focused on treating and curing a disease that they fail to address the patient as a whole. Whether it is discussing with them the potential complications of procedures, what their recovery process would be like, and if treatment of a disease outweighs their potential side effects.

What’s Different About the Austin Urology Institute?

One of the reasons why I chose to go into urology was that patients oftentimes receive comprehensive care in terms of their main issue (i.e. cancer, etc.) and are also able to have their quality of life items addressed by the same physicians (incontinence, erectile dysfunction, pain, etc.). Patients who undergo surgery for prostate cancer may have post-operative urinary leakage that is bothersome but this issue can be ultimately addressed and possibly fixed by the same doctor either through conservative means or through an additional procedure.
In addition to being able to take care of a patient’s complications or side effects, a large majority of urology treatments and procedures are primarily aimed to help patients live happier, less complicated lives when it comes to their urinary symptoms.

Men who have trouble urinating due to enlarged prostates may be treated to help them urinate better. Women who also experience urinary problems may undergo procedures that address the underlying issue. Addressing these “quality of life” items and helping patients deal with them is one of the most rewarding things about being a urologist.

If your quality of life is important to you, drop us a note or give us a call at 512-537-3565.