June 28, 2012

Doctors and Patients Both Need to Listen

Human interactions can create funny happenings and tragic results. It is small wonder with all the different types of personalities we encounter on a daily basis that most interactions are constructive and positive. Doctors and patients also fit in this category, especially when they are in a room with each other. Add to the equation that the patient is ill and the doctor has no idea the cause. This may lead to several possibilities.

If you think every story has two sides, you would be correct. Only sometimes there can be many factors leading to several sides and this is when both sides can become very confused, frustrated, anxious, and angry. This blog should really make you think and appreciate a little from both sides. Back on May 18, 2010 I wrote this blog and I am still surprised how much is applicable today. Then on July 16, 2010, I wrote this blog about my appreciation of what Dr. Rob Lamberts wrote in his blog.

Again I need to show my appreciation for a blog written by Dr. Lamberts on January 29, 2012. Yes, it has taken me awhile to write about this; however, I have had this on the list of to do blogs since he posted it. Plus sometimes things do not fall into place as neatly as we want. I get started and then something interrupts and says write about me first.

Dr. Lamberts lists ten things he uses in the process when he approaches a patient with a problem they want solved. I will let you follow the link in the paragraph above and read the list and his explanation to keep this from becoming a lengthy blog. He follows the first list with seven tips of advice for patients. I sincerely wish more doctors would have the same doctor-patient philosophy.

His list is more constructive and easy for a patient to understand. If more doctors could even come close to following this list, we would not need to be so proactive in our care and at times a pain in our doctor's backside. When a doctor tunes me out or goes on auto-pilot with me, I do have a way of bringing the doctor back to my world. I will not say how I do this as I have to vary the method with other doctors. As it happened with one doctor, he actually stopped and said thank you for bringing him out of auto-pilot. We did discuss this and how easy it was to recognize when he started on auto-pilot. It seems he has some words that when a patient uses them, he tends to go there, but did not realize how recognizable they were to patients.

It is great to see other doctors blogging about listening to patients and that they see the need to let others know how important this is to patients. Please read this blog by Dr, Peter Pronovost. His blog is about patient safety and how doctors and hospital staff can sometimes do the simplest of things right when needed. Then at other times, can cause harm because they ignored a piece of key information because they do not listen.

The third blog is by Dr. Peter Elias about his experience of not listening to a patient and the lesson he learned. I admit I admire him for his forthright admission and how he handled it with grace after being shown the error of his ways.

For doctors to be blogging about listening to patients is encouraging for patients to read. Hopefully, more doctors will heed their advice. I admit I like doctors that talk with me and explain what they would like to see happen. This gives me the opportunity to ask more informed questions and make sure I understand what is expected and what my responsibilities are to make it happen.

I admit I am old enough to be crotchety and bold when a doctor talks at me. I normally go into a bad mood and start badgering the doctor to be more specific and throw questions to wake the doctor up to the fact that I am a person that does not appreciate being talked at or about. Only one time have I had to stop a doctor and tell him that I was leaving to find another doctor because I did not appreciate the fact that he would not discuss things that I was asking questions about and was talking at me instead of with me. He stopped long enough to say the pharmacist could explain the medication. To this I said it would be too late as I had an allergy to an ingredient in the medicine and was trying to tell him that the medication was wrong for me. I flipped the prescription slip on his desk and said he would be directed where to send my medical records.

About three days later, I did receive an apology letter admitting he had not looked at my allergy list when he prescribed the medication. I did respond saying I had saved him a lawsuit by rejecting the prescription because I felt he might remember the lesson more by being told how wrong he had been. Handing things over to his liability insurer would not have taught him anything. In the years since, we greet each other and talk occasionally. He does remember and asks me if I have had any more problems like him since. So far, I have been able to say no problems like him.

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