Have you ever had a frustrating doctor’s appointment, either with yourself, or with one of your children? Maybe you didn’t feel like you had enough time, the doctor was distracted, or something else just left you feeling less than taken care of? Just like any other relationship, the doctor-patient relationship can be tough, and is founded on great communication. Dr. Karen Trollope-Kumar, a family physician, has some quick tips to help make sure that both you and your doctor make it out of your appointment frustration-free.
1. If you are seeing the doctor for a complicated issue ask the receptionist to book you a longer appointment.
2. Prepare what you’re going to say ahead of time, and keep it concise and focused.
3. If you’ve done some research on the Internet about your problem and want to share it with your doctor, make sure you use reputable sites to get that information. Doctors get frustrated when patients bring in reams of information of dubious value.
4. Avoid coming into the doctor’s office with a list of unrelated problems – focus on your main concern for that visit.
5. If you are going in to get results of an important test, bring a friend or relative with you. Sometimes it can be hard to remember what the doctor has said, especially when the topic is emotionally laden.
6. If you have a particular worry about a symptom (for example, Could this be cancer?), express that concern to the doctor.
7. If the doctor advises a treatment you don’t feel comfortable with, explain your reasons, and see if an alternative approach would be possible.
8. Keep your follow up appointment, and at that time let the doctor know how well (or not) the treatment has worked.
9. If you’re not happy with the service you’re getting, communicate this clearly but politely, using “I” statements. (for example, “I feel concerned about how long it took to receive these test results.”)
10. If you’re happy with the service you’re getting from your doctor, a word of thanks or a card is always appreciated. Doctors are human too!
Improving communication requires work on the part of both the doctor and the patient. Working together, patients and family doctors can form great partnerships if they keep communication at the forefront of their relationship.
Dr. Karen Trollope-Kumar is a family physician and author of Cloud Messenger: Love and Loss in the Indian Himalayas. For more information, please visit www.karentrollopekumar.com.
Do you have any tips to share on how you have worked with your doctors to keep you and your family healthy?