Chapter 17 & 18

Chapter 17 dealt with the question of what had caused Lia’s condition and if there was, if anything, that could have been changed such that Lia didn’t have to suffer the fate she had. It had been revealed that her brain death was the result of septic shock caused by the pseudomonas aeruginosa bacillus in her blood and consequently, it was the septic shock that had caused her seizures; however, it was unknown how she had acquired it and it was too late when this information became known. Interestingly, it was agreed upon by a number of individuals that nothing would have changed the outcome of Lia’s life. Even if she had taken the prescribed medication perfectly without the interference of her parents’ Hmong remedies, it would not have made a difference. In fact, while to the average American reader, the remedies and beliefs about the western healthcare system put forth by her parents seemed absurd, they were ultimately right about the fact that certain medications Lia was taking contributed to her neural decline. This illustrates that there is not one, single right perspective when it comes to interpreting medicine and health and that adopting a multicultural view can be, in many ways, beneficial because it not only allows one to understand illness in a multifaceted way, but it also allows the individual to be more empathetic towards the perspective of others, especially when they may differ.

Chapter 18 highlights the rift created by the varying cultural differences with regards to interpreting the cause and treatment of a disease or any other life complication. This is especially apparent in the Hmong who consider the methods employed by western doctors to be a threat to how medicine is practiced in their culture. In many such cases, the Hmong may give these doctors a chance but are often apprehensive and when complications arise, they are quick to flee the hospital, never to return. As discussed in class, the language and cultural barrier are one of the largest reasons for patient dissatisfaction. Patients who are unable to adequately understand and be understood by their physician can lead to frustration, reduced doctor visits, not following the advice given by doctors, and more. It is important to be able to practice what one has been trained to do, but it is also important for doctors to be culturally flexible and be able to respond to patients in ways that make them feel comfortable in order to provide the best possible care. However, this is not always possible given that translators are not always on hand and not every physician has the time or resources to be able to properly understand every nuance of every culture. While it is unclear how we as a society might make this reality more possible, I am hopeful that people of all walks of life are able to access quality health-care without being restricted by their background.

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