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Cadernos de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1678-4464Print version ISSN 0102-311X


NATIONS, Marilyn K.  and  GOMES, Annatália Meneses de Amorim. Patients' complaints of verbal abuse by health professionals during hospital care in Northeast Brazil. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 2007, vol.23, n.9, pp.2103-2112. ISSN 1678-4464.

The current anthropological study focuses on the assessment by patients/citizens concerning the conduct of health professionals in a public general hospital in Fortaleza, Ceará State, Brazil. From January to July 2005 we tracked 13 key informants during hospitalization and analyzed their narratives of the experience. According to our observations, patients develop definite opinions of the caregivers' gestures and expressions during the entire process. In the health professionals, patients appreciate the human ability to express affect, to talk, and to include them in clinical decisions, above and beyond the professionals' technical skills. Patients criticize aloof, cold, and rude attitudes by health professionals, whom patients compare metaphorically to "human quadrupeds". They recommend an affective, empathetic, and ethical approach and clinical communications backed by straight talk, friendly conversation, and respect for daily customs related to life in Northeast Brazil. We contend that this legitimate and critical voice of the patient/citizen provides valuable clues for transforming professional conduct, rehabilitating patients' morale, and building a humane hospital within a context of social inequalities.

Keywords : Physician-Patient Relations; Humanization of Assistance; Delivery of Health Care.

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