How to cope with heart-sink patients

They overwhelm you and give you a sense of hopelessness. So just how do you care for those patients who make your heart sink?

IT IS THE feeling of dysphoria, not in your heart but in the pit of your stomach when a particular patient appears on the morning list or in the waiting room.

First coined in the literature nearly 30 years ago,1 the term heart sink has become a nail-on-the-head description of an emotion aroused by those patients the doctor would rather not see. It’s a phenomenon that is all but inescapable in general practice.

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