Do You Work with a Credit Hog? MG THINKERS 50...
It reminded me that Hippocrates famously exhorted physicians to “First do no harm.” But he also urged them “to make the patient cooperate.” Not only did my doctor expect me to fail at compliance, but he was failing to comply with Hippocrates’s edict. Sadly, the attitude of this doctor remains the rule rather than the exception. Patient noncompliance costs American medicine $100 billion a year. Raise your hand if your doctor has ever checked with the pharmacy to see if you actually picked up your prescription, or called you a week or two after your visit to make sure you were taking your medication.
My doctor back then was right, of course. Compliance is easy to understand (“If I comply, I get better”), but hard to do (“I have to do it every day. Ugh!”). People are woefully bad at compliance, whether we’re flouting our doctors’ recommendations, our teachers’ summer reading lists or nightly homework assignments, our parents’ requests to make our beds, or our editors’ deadlines. I only wish he’d felt a little responsibility to warn this patient of that.
Here’s a simple truth: You can’t count on the people issuing the orders to hold your hand to ensure compliance. You’re on your own. Nor can you count on every situation to compel compliance. I completed the splint therapy only because I was in pain, and I didn’t want a crippled hand for the rest of my life. Absent the pain and disfigured hand, I doubt I would have been so compliant.
The baseball finger incident taught me this: We’re more likely to comply with a recommended course of action when failure to do so results in extreme pain or punishment, either physical, financial, or emotional. Your health doesn’t improve. Your injury doesn’t heal. You lose your job. Your relationship founders. You suffer long-lasting regret for an opportunity squandered.
When you’re faced with one of those extreme situations that threaten you with existential pain or punishment—and you recognize the seriousness of the moment—compliance should not be a challenge.
You have no other choice.