Illness Increases Empathy with Patients

Dr. Sapna Kudchadkar with her son Kishen (15), daughter Asha (12), and husband RajSapna Kudchadkar, MD, PhD, has unprecedented insight into what her patients with COVID-19 are going through; she was one of the first 200 people in Maryland to contract the virus. Her symptoms started in March 2020, about a week after the World Health Organization declared a pandemic.

Dr.Kudchadkar is an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and works in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). At the time, none of the children in the PICU had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and the medical staff was working hard to protect patients from exposure. However, they didn’t yet realize what they needed to do to limit their own exposure. She spent 14 days isolated in a bedroom at home, interacting with her family only through electronics. She experienced significant fatigue, weakness, and muscle aches, along with a cough, sore throat, and fever. And her illness was not considered severe.

When she was cleared to go back to work, she was able to empathize with patients in a new way, understanding not only their symptoms (especially weakness and deconditioning), but also the despair of isolation.

She describes her experiences in a video interview with ABP President and CEO David Nichols, MD, MBA, on the ABP blog.

Photo: Dr. Sapna Kudchadkar with her son Kishen (15), daughter Asha (12), and husband Raj