Thursday, 20 October 2011

11 things I want every doctor to know....

There are so many things patients want their doctors to know. Things we never say in the office because there’s never time to get to THOSE complaints. But, in hopes that some freak thing will happen and a doctor will read this, I’m blogging about it today.
1.       Having “MD” behind your name doesn’t make your time more valuable than mine.
A)     I will not wait longer than 30 minutes beyond my appointment time to see the doctor. This includes time in the waiting room and time sitting in the exam room waiting for you to make an appearance. I’ve got things to do too. I’ve taken off work to come see you. I’m losing money. I only make an exception to this rule if you don’t fit what I’m about to describe in “B”.
B)      When I reach the exam room, you’re not going to rush me through like I’m caught up in a cattle call. This is one I WILL call you on. I came prepared, with a list (to help save time), ready to address my issues, and I’m paying you to address those issues with me. So, sit you’re your butt down and give me what I’m paying for.
C)      The cause of “A” and “B” is that you have chosen to consistently overbook. This takes me to an old military saying, “Piss poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Plan your day better so you can give your patients the time they need and treat them like they matter. REMEMBER: You’re making a living off me!

2.       I don’t care if you don’t care about me. However, I do care if you treat me like you don’t care about me. I need your undivided attention. If you miss something while I’m telling you what’s going on with me, I could end up seriously ill or dead. I have several health issues, two of which can be life threatening if not treated properly.  So, get out of la-la land and listen up. The life you save could be mine. IT’S PROVEN: PATIENTS LISTEN TO DOCTORS WHO LISTEN TO THEM!

3.       As much as I need you to listen, I also need you to talk to me. Don’t treat me like I’m just fortunate enough to be in the room with you while you’re working. Tell me what you’re thinking and tell me what you think I should be doing. If you’re performing a test, tell me what I should be expecting. I actually had a neurologist come in the room, have me lie down on a table, and without saying a word, began  jabbing needles into my legs and zapping me with what amounted to a mini-taser. Gee, jerk-face, thanks for the warning! When he was done, he just walked out of the room. End of visit.

4.       I need you to think outside the box. Don’t keep running the same tests over and over to get the same results. Look further. What tests fit that you haven’t run? What things have you not considered? It reminds me of an analogy of a toy robot that runs into a wall, backs up, and runs into the same wall again without thinking, “Hey! If I turn around and go another direction I might reach the destination.”

5.       Don’t assume that you know better than me what is normal for my body. I’ve lived with it for 39 years. I know better than anyone what my “normal” is. I’m also smart enough to know that my normal can change. However, there are two kinds of “not normal”. One is expected with aging and one is “there’s a problem here”. I know the difference, you should too. This goes back to #3. Listen up, dude, I’m talkin’ here.

6.       Don’t make promises you might not be able to keep. Give me the statistics. If there’s a chance something won’t work, tell me what that chance is. If you’re just experimenting to see what kind of results you get, tell me that too. I’m a big girl. I can take it. I need honesty, even if it hurts.

7.       Don’t make major medication changes for me without discussing it with the prescriber. This is why we have Primary Care Physicians. It’s called “managed care”. You’ve heard of that, right? It’s where I have a primary doctor to manage my overall medical care… there’s a good reason for it. I once got tied up in this battle between one of my specialists and my primary doctor. They got in a tug of war, with me in the middle, regarding which medications I should be on to manage migraines, fibromyalgia pain, and sleep. They repeatedly changed my meds back and forth before I finally got mad and told them both, “No more changes until you talk to each other and reach an agreement about what medications will work best for me. I am not a guinea pig and I am not a weapon in your battle of wills.” Seriously, am I managing a pre-school playground here?

8.       We have a working relationship. Relationship indicates a give and take. I am not a dollar sign that equals a new pool in your back yard. I am a person who is sick and wants to feel better. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. I need you to be willing too.

9.       Expounding again on #3. If you have ideas but feel your hands are tied by my insurance company, tell me that! I might know how to help you get around it. I would definitely be willing to do the leg work and find out if anything can be done.

10.   Be compassionate. I know you spend 10-12 hours a day, plus nights, holidays and weekends on call, listening to people complain all the time. I know that sometimes it’s hard not to get wrapped up in it when you listen to negativity all day. But, I still need you.  Honestly, if you’re that jaded and disgusted with what you do for a living, maybe it’s time for a career change. You’re not helping anyone if you’re tuned out and cynical.

11.   Your learning curve didn’t end when you finished medical school. The medical field is constantly and rapidly changing. Diagnostic criteria changes, the areas where testing can reach changes, treatment regimens constantly change. I expect you to be on top of those changes. This goes back to #4. Thinking outside the box.
These all add up to some very basic things; compassion, respect, knowledge, consistency and kindness. It’s not too much to ask. I expect a doctor to have them. When he/she doesn’t, they get a letter from me before my next visit. Then, at the next visit, I ask them, “Can you work with this, or would it be better for me to find a new doctor?”  So far, I've only had one that didn’t appreciate my candor and attempt to work with me—the creepy neurologist I mentioned above.
Miss anything? Anything you think should be added to this list? Any doctors care to leave a rebuttal to any of these? Leave me a comment.

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