Being a Patient

Apr 30, 2018 | Uncategorized

We sometimes have this unrealistic expectation of doctors and…they just don’t measure up.

Sometimes, we have a realistic expectation of doctors and… they just don’t measure up.

This may come as a surprise to some, but the truth is, Doctor’s are human.  I know.  Too bad they  have to be human.  At one time or another, we just want them to pull a miracle out of their inside out scrubs pocket.  We want them to have mastered the art of healing. We expect their bedside manner to be all that…and then some.  We hate to doubt that their knowledge has limits. In all ways, we expect nothing less of perfection. 

But then, life happens.  It happens to us and it happens to them and in the messy parts of any given day, they stumble from the pedestal, on which we allow them to teeter.  You know what happens then…that’s right we socialize about their fall from perfection and that’s that. I’ve done it, you’ve done and they’ve probably done it to each other. Life is a journey of experiences, for good or for bad and it begs to be witnessed and validated.  Don’t get me wrong, some doctors get what comes, but for the most part, they do the best they can, given the fact they are human and all.

The majority of complaints against doctors have nothing to do with their medical skills and everything to do with communication skills on both sides…the doctor and the patient.  Not only that, the majority of doctors didn’t even realize there was a problem. 

It’s hard to on the best of days to communicate with doctors, but when we are sick and scared and afraid that our health is unraveling, it’s even harder to effectively balance this very important and personal relationship with the person we trust with our very life.

Here are some tips for making each appointment with your healthcare provider be the best it can be.

  • When reporting your symptoms, be thorough, organized and concise.  When they ask what brings you in, give them a brief overview and even a list of concerns you would like to address during the visit.  Be conscientious and respectful of time, it may require a second visit to cover your concerns. 
  • Bring a list of your medications, including supplements and over the counter meds.  
  • Be honest with your doctor about your health history and present issues.
  • Invest more trust in your doctor than in Google. 
  • Speaking of Google, educate yourself of your condition, understand the basic terminology, so that you can ask the best questions, and be proactive in your own health.  This is different than using the internet to self diagnose. 
  • Write down your questions and concerns
  • Ask about the best method of communication, if some questions come up after you leave the appointment.
  • Be assertive. If you don’t understand any part of the visit, including diagnosis, treatment plans or medication, let them know where you are confused.  
  • Bring one trusted friend or family member if you need support.  Do not bring your tribe along.  It slows down the process and creates too many distractions. 
  • If you feel you are not being heard, respectfully tell them how you are feeling.  It’s most likely they aren’t making you feel this way intentionally.  If after attempts to communicate your difficulties and angst, the situation can’t be resolved, then perhaps it isn’t a good fit and time to move on.
  • Be careful what you read on social media platforms.  We are quicker to complain about a poor experience than to report the awesome interactions we have with our doctors.  Take each complaint with a grain of salt.  If you do have complaints, try to resolve them with your provider before jumping to conclusions. 

Of course, this is just the short list for patients on how to improve a patient/ doctor relationship.  Healthcare providers of all varieties, have a responsibility to deliver, quality, compassionate care.  They are healers and they are held to higher standards because of the role they play in caring for human life.  It’s okay to expect this but make sure you are doing your part as well.  The more we can address our health with a team approach, the better the overall experience will be. 

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