- Long-suffering and Very Patient - the Tagalog word is "matiisin." He will not consult a doctor unless the pain has become so intolerable he can no longer walk or go to work. By that time, his disease has grown worse, and the doctor finds it difficult to treat him.
- Afraid - fear of whatever disease he has haunts him incessantly. He does not want to know what he has because he is afraid it might have no cure, or finding out that his days on earth are numbered. In general, most Filipino patients would rather not see their doctors.
- Frugal and Thrifty - Filipino patients are so careful about how to spend their money that given a choice between enduring a long-standing pain and feeding his family, he will always choose the latter. This trait, combined with traits #1 and #2, makes him shun hospitals and clinics for the longest time.
- Prescription Modifier - corollary to #3, if a doctor prescribes him a medication for say, one week, he will stop taking that medication in 3 days once he feels better already. Never mind if the doctor emphasized that it should be taken for a week without fail. He always knows better. Likewise, if the medication is too expensive and has to be taken, say 4 times a day, he will likely modify it to 2 times or once a day just to save his money. He ignores the fact that he might not be receiving the correct drug dosage anymore.
- "Prescribe Me Something, Please!" - when a patient sees me because of a mild cough or a cold, I sometimes advise them to eat citrus fruits, drink lots of water, take paracetamol for fever, and rest at home for a couple of days. I tell them they will get well in due time. They will give that malcontented look and ask, "That's it? You're not prescribing me more medicines?" They simply can't accept the fact that they will get well by resting and drinking plenty of fluids. Not all diseases need medicine and most medicines have unwanted side-effects. I try to spare them from expense and side-effects and still, they want otherwise.
- Agrees With The Doctor While Inside The Clinic - while consulting, most patients will agree with their doctors that smoking is bad and they should quit. They will agree that exercising regularly should be made a habit. They will nod when their doctors tell them that eating too much lechon (and other fatty foods) and drinking beer daily are bad for them. They will even dazzle their doctors with anecdotes of how a fat friend suddenly died of a heart attack. But wait until they step out of the clinic. They're back to their old ways. They were just paying their doctors lip-service. It was all nothing but an empty exchange.
- Low on Preventive Measures - corollary to #6, the Filipino patient in general does not believe that prevention is more than a pound of cure. He enjoys living because life is short, and he indulges in all its pleasures. He ignores the no-smoking signs, he turns a blind eye on the importance of nutrition labels on food items, and says proudly that he'd rather die with a smile on his face than a smirk because of too much self-imposed health discipline.
- Very Timid - almost approaching the height of apathy, the Filipino patient sometimes seldom asks about disease processes, what causes it, how it can be avoided, and how it can be treated. This type of patient is the direct opposite of #5. When I see patients, I devote some time educating them about their illnesses, complete with diagrams and drawings. It is frustrating when you sense that you are just wasting their time because they are not interested. To this day, I'm amazed by this passivity of interest. I think everyone must express intense concern about what goes on in their bodies and how diseases affect them.
- Listens More To Others - some Filipino patients would rather copy the recommended medication of a friend, a relative, or the suggestion of the saleslady of a local pharmacy than consult a doctor. This is a risky trait as they may either get worse or get inappropriate treatment from these faulty recommendations.
- Believes in the Supernatural - most Filipino patients in the provinces still believe in the power of kulam and superstitions, and would rather consult faith healers than doctors.
09 October 2006
Feel free to agree, disagree, and add to this list of observations I have compiled over the years while interacting with Filipino patients. The Filipino patient has the following characteristics:
Written by Dr. Emer at 5:18 AM