While I was on an airplane reading, “When Doctors Don’t Listen, How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests,” by Drs. Leana Wen and Joshua Kosowsky, another passenger glanced over at my book. She began to tell me her story.
Well prepared for her visit, Ann held out a list of her health concerns for “Dr. Jones” to see. Without even looking up at her or her list, his response was an abrupt, “I don’t have time for that.” End of discussion. End of comprehensive visit and unfortunately, end of an opportunity to establish mutual respect and rapport. Ann was so annoyed she got up and left immediately. She said: “I fired my doctor.” An option, for sure, but often not the best one. Sometimes, you may need to work toward a compromise between your present needs and concerns as a patient and your doctor’s approach to patient care and communication.
“Doctor Jones” could have explained he was having an extraordinarily busy day. He could have asked her to prioritize her list to discuss one or two of her most pressing issues and reschedule another day to deal with the balance. Sounds reasonable, but in this instance, he didn’t. Ann’s response could have been different as well. She could have explained she had patiently waited for quite a while to see him and although he was quite busy, she hoped that together they could figure out what would be the best way forward.
Understandably, the above situation doesn’t always work. Sometimes, you and your healthcare provider don’t agree on priorities and you’ll need to part ways. I chose to initiate the 3 P’s – Patient, Pleasant and Persistent – with a very smart, very busy and pretty impatient physician under whose care I wanted to remain. It worked. It may not be easy, but it’s well worth the effort. Our goal as patients is to be active participants in our healthcare. To do so requires us to ask for what we need – politely and persistently, if necessary, as both patient and physician work in tandem to achieve optimum healthcare.
Again, why wait.