A recent medical journal article discussed the importance of patient trustworthiness in a pain management situation. I was struck by the parallel to the need for trustworthiness in my legal clients. The medical article focused on the three components of trustworthiness:
The subjective nature of pain leads to many treatment difficulties. These problems can often be resolved if we know that the patient is trustworthy. Trustworthiness should be assessed as a distinct clinical variable. This is more easily achieved if we examine the three components of trustworthiness: the patientâ€™s subjective reports, which we call testimony; the reason that the patient seeks treatment, which we call motive; and the patientâ€™s adherence with efforts to get well, which we call responsibility. Because of difficulties with assessing testimony and motive, we propose that establishing the patientâ€™s responsibility is the key to assessing trustworthiness.
Abstract of Trustworthiness as a Clinical Variable, Pain Medicine : the official journal of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, Volume 6, Number 5, September 2005
Bottom line – I trust my clients until they give me a reason to doubt their honesty during the course of our relationship. Fortunately, only a very small percentage have been dishonest with me or my staff. I agree with the observation in the medical article that my clients and I can overcome many obstacles if we trust each other. It is the foundation of a productive professional relationship.