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Are you a good patient?

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Monday, August 4, 2008
Time and time again I hear from my patients, clients, caregivers and family members "my doctor doesn't spend enough time with me, he/she doesn't take my questions and concerns seriously and then hastily leaves the room only for an assistant to come back in and I never see the doctor again". 

Well certainly this does not give you any peace of mind regarding your doctor or your health situation. And, certainly we do not want to continue to feel this way and should not accept this type of treatment by our doctors. HOWEVER, are you doing your part to be good patient? WOW, everyone hates it and sometimes gets offended when I ask this question. But quite frankly about 50% of the time the doctor is just as frustrated with you and your lack of preparedness for the appointment. Let me ask if you do the following:

1. Do you show up late for your appointment?
2. Do you write down your questions, symptoms, etc so you are ready to be seen by the doctor?
3. Have you brought a list of your current medications?
4. Do you have a room full of people attending the appointment with you and everyone has their own set of questions?
5. Have you bathed properly and paid attention to body oder, breath, cleanliness?
6. Did you follow your doctors advice from the last visit?

Depending on the question above and what your answer is you might be a lousy patient. Sorry to break it to you...but a fair deal of responsibility for your communication with your doctor is your responsibility.

Couple of rules to improve your communication with you doctor and become a good patient:
  • BE there Early!!!! Or at the very least on time in case you need to fill out more information. Make sure you have all the information, health insurance cards, health related information. If you have another appointment to attend after the current one, let the receptionist know when you get there so they are not delayed in getting you in and cause you to miss your other appointment.
  • Don't waste your doctors time, be prepared with your questions written down, list of current medications, symptoms, etc. Get straight to business don't expect them to listen to all your personal happenings like who got married, who had a baby, etc. They are very busy and you are there to discuss what your health situation is and not shoot the breaze. If you are that close to your doctor than you should call at a later time and make a date for lunch or dinner to get caught up. Right now lets focus on the business at hand.
  • Do not bring more than 2 people with you to your doctor appointments. There isn't enough room in the patient rooms for more than that and there isn't enough time to talk to each of you. Bring your caregiver, and another person who is informed and educated.
  • CLEAN YOURSELF BEFORE YOU GO! Don't go to your doctor appointments after you have mowed the yard in 100 degree heat and haven't taken a shower yet. Most people brush their teeth before seeing the dentist, well, you should also make sure you are clean when you see your doctor. I am sorry but that is just GROSS!
  • Follow the advice of your doctor. Otherwise, if you are not going to do what they recommend then don't waste your time or theirs and find a new doctor that you trust and will follow their recommendations. If your doctor tells you need to stop smoking to get rid of your bronchial infection and you continue to smoke, there isn't much your doctor can do for you if you don't take responsibily and follow their advice.

I hope this doesn't sound to harsh, but if you do your part to improve the communication with your doctor and they continue to dismiss your concerns, you still do not get questions answered and feel rushed, then you should look for another doctor. As long as you as doing your part to be a good patient than it is compeltely appropriate to expect the doctor to their job as well.

Good luck!!




Posted by Nancy Thomason at

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