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The parallel charts in clinical practice: interview to Maria D’Amato

Aim of the project “Breathing words” was to collect the experiences narrated by the doctor in the caring of the patients through the parallel chart tool. The project allowed the BPCO patient’s experience to emerge, and to give voice, for the first time, to a different care pathway and taking charge of the patient is his/her meaning of person. Secondly, the project allowed to make available for clinicians new application tools for listening to patients, in order to comprehend their needs, their life conditions, and the disease experience through a methodology complementary to the “clinical” one. Here we host an interview to Maria D’Amato, medical director of the ward of Pneumo-Phthisiology of the Federico II University (Naples), Monaldi Hospital.

Q. What do you think about Narrative Medicine?

MD. It was a completely different and new way to approach the patient, going beyond the mere outpatient visit. Narrative Medicine allowed me to identify myself with the patient, and at the same time – even knowing I had to write parallel charts – to enter in his/her life: it humanized the relationship with him/her.

Q. Has the writing of parallel charts been useful in improving your relationship with patients?

MD. Yes. Often in the writing of parallel charts I did not follow the given structure, because in some moments it was more interesting and direct not to enter in certain schedules, but imaging that was a description of the patient. Writing these charts allowed me to enter patient’s life. In the congresses, usually, the patient is only a mean to talk about a disease or a drug: on the contrary, here the patient is at the center of the attention.

Q. Does the writing of parallel chart help in defining better therapeutic path and global care, in your opinion?

MD. Not strictly. Surely it helps the doctor in understanding the patient in a more global sense, also because a therapy cannot forget the environmental and emotional situation, or objective difficulties the patient could run into – also taking or not taking a therapy. Writing a parallel chart improves the communication: it “obliges” the clinician to become “human”.

Q. From collected narratives, the patient emerges as an active and full of interest person. Do you think that the common representation of the old and not self-sufficient patient could be overcome?

MD. It must be overcome. Otherwise, therapies we give would not make any sense, as to increase the life expectancy of these patients. Patients want to do therapy because the feel active, and they want to be active – although perhaps not in the way that we “younger” imagine: they want to go out, go to the bar with friends, and also take care of the spouse. And they do not want to be a burden to their sons and daughters. These are the aspects we must seek to ensure, and where to arrive also thanks to drugs.

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