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'Only 10 Seconds to Care' by Dr. Wendy S. Harpham helps heal clinician-patient bonds

PHILADELPHIA, April 23, 2009 -- In "Only 10 Seconds to Care: Help and Hope for Busy Clinicians" -- just released by ACP Press, the book publishing program of the American College of Physicians -- Wendy S. Harpham, MD, FACP, shares insights and advice about the healing power of compassionate words and actions that take only seconds to say or do, yet can make a world of difference to patients.

"Because of demands on today's physicians and other health care professionals, the timing for this book couldn't be better," said Dr. Harpham. "Clinicians often feel like they do not have enough time to give patients compassionate attention -- a vital component of medical care."

An internist and a survivor of chronic cancer, Dr. Harpham's engaging and inspiring stories reflect her personal experiences as a physician and a patient. She has been helping health care professionals and patients alike think and talk about compassion in medical care since being diagnosed with lymphoma in 1990.

"It was in the setting of my own vulnerability that I first appreciated the breadth and depth of everyday difficulties endured by patients," recalled Dr. Harpham. "Just days after my diagnosis, I wrote down the rush of my thoughts and feelings. My colleagues who read the final piece assured me it helped them understand."

Although addressing patients' feelings may seem to physicians like a lower priority than getting correct diagnoses and optimizing treatments, Dr. Harpham believes that the physician-patient relationship can mean the difference between life and death.

"Factors having nothing to do with the science of physical healing can affect patient outcomes," explained Dr. Harpham. "Patients' awareness of the clinician's compassion can determine whether they report worrisome signs and symptoms in a timely manner and comply with therapies."

"Only 10 Seconds to Care" can help patients, too. While health care professionals who read the book may find themselves more forgiving of an irritable patient, patients may find themselves more accepting of physicians who seem hurried or unemotional.

"Mutual understanding paves the way to healthy relationships," said Dr. Harpham. "By learning to let insignificant lapses slide, health care professionals and patients can focus on what really matters -- clinicians providing quality care and patients benefiting optimally."


Contact: Steve Majewski
American College of Physicians

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