Doctors often struggle to show compassion while dealing with patients

Many say our health-care system lacks compassion. I too at times feel that pills and surgeries, CT scans and radiation therapies, biopsies and blood tests have become a priority in medicine and that compassion — the “touchy-feely” part of medicine — has become an afterthought in patient care.

After a few days in the hospital, Mr. Venata’s fever subsided, and I asked if I could talk with him about his experience. He was a retired major who earned a Bronze Star in Vietnam, then became an executive for a multinational company, from which he had recently retired. He had never been married. I wanted to talk to him about how doctors should handle end-of-life situations.

By Manoj Jain