The world of medicine is like a bubble. A lot of people THINK they know what goes on there, but unless you're down in the trenches it's unlikely you do. So here is my semi-anonymous blog, here to tell you what really goes on in the life of a medical resident.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Things I Would Like to Tell my Patients

1. Don't assume that every doctor in the world runs late. I rarely do. Please be on time.

2. Bring a list of your medications. If you don't have time to make a list, just throw them all in a bag and bring them with you. Please don't assume that I intuitively know what changes the specialists made to your medications, and please don't think that I'll be able to translate "you know, the white pill-- it's kind of round?" into meaningful information.

3. Don't freak out if you're in for a pap smear and you haven't trimmed your bikini line. I don't notice. I don't care.

4. Please don't bring two other members of your family with different problems and expect me to deal with them all. I like to run on time, and people who expect me to deal with their headaches, their son's asthma and their husband's depression in one time slot make this impossible.

5. If you come in with a problem and I perscribe something to fix it, don't expect the problem to resolve if you decide not to take the medication. And then don't come it two weeks later and tell me the medication 'didn't work'. It only works if you fill the perscription.

6. If you experience a minor side effect while taking a medication, call my office and let me know. Don't take yourself off of your medication so that when you come in 3 months later for follow up your previously controlled hypertension is 190/100 mmHg.

7. When you call the office and ask for an urgent appointment for a non-urgent problem, please don't reject all 3 appointment times offered and go to a walk-in clinic. We're trying to accomodate you. And when you come back in a week with the same complaint, we have no access to tests that have been done or what they tried to do for you.

8. No one is asking you to be a doctor, but PLEASE know a little something about your own medical history. Telling us that you had three operations in the past five years but you're not really sure what they were for doesn't help at all. And mentioning that they may have been for some kind of cancer doesn't really narrow the possibilities.

9. Be honest. I'm not here to judge your drinking/smoking/drug use/sexual practices, but they do affect your health care and how I approach your management. Don't lie to me. It only hurts you in the long run.

10. If you're convinced that all western medicine is evil and that all doctors are just out to medicalize everything and exploit your health problems for profit, maybe you should be seeing some other kind of health practitioner. It's a waste of my time and yours if you're just going to sit there and eye me suspiciously, then shoot down every suggestion I make with "I don't believe in taking medications/physiotherapy/lifestyle modifications". What are you hoping I can do for you?

It was a frustrating week.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Sandra said...

Breath!!! Next week will be better.

10:36 PM

 
Anonymous charlotte said...

Yikes! Remind me next time I see my doctor (as I arrive on time, alone and have a good reason why I'm there) to give her a hug!!

How many wanted you to give them antibiotics for their colds this week? :)

9:19 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Hon!

From my experience in a real estate office, cafe, and restaurant, those are the realities of dealing with the public. There's a lotta geniuses out there. :)

Eventually, you'll find your own way of dealing with them, and beat them at their own game.

Good luck!

xoxo - dc.

9:02 AM

 
Blogger drmimers said...

Welcome to the world of family medicine. Daily trials and tribulations! Ah... the fun!

mimi

10:51 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great advice. By the way, is it a problem that a doctor can't spell "prescribe" or "prescription"? :D Just kidding. I like your blog!

3:20 PM

 
Anonymous Ali said...

As a medical student in training I totally relate and feel a little less jerky seeing that you have the same reactions to some of your patients that I do!

9:31 PM

 
Blogger flowerdrumsong said...

Dr. Couz,

Very well said! Thanks for your insight - makes us patient understand the medicine world. :)

11:25 AM

 
Blogger Charity Doc said...

Here are some of my favorites (honest to God)response from clueless patients:

Me: What medications do you take?
Patient: A heart pill.
Me: What kind of heart pill?
Patient: It's a pill for my heart.
Me: What's the name of it?
Patient: I don't know, it's a heart pill

Me: What medication do you take?
Patient: A blue pill, a little itty bitty____(enter color of choice here) pill.

Another scenario that's very common with elderly patients---
Me: I see that there's a big scar on you, what surgery did you have done?
Patient: I dunno, they told me I needed the surgery.
Me: That looks like a pretty big scar. You mean to tell me you had major surgery but don't know what it's for?
Patient: I don't know, they just told me I needed the surgery.

Here's the worse of them all:
Me: What medications do you take?
Patient: "I don't know man, it's all in the chart. Look in my chart."
Me: What medical problems do you have?
Patient: I don't know. Look in my chart.

1:13 AM

 
Blogger ObGynThoughts said...

Hi,
As an ObGyn in private practice I know these points all too well. If you suffer, you could do a number of things:
you could instruct your staff to ask specifically who has a problem and ask that only that person comes into the room,
you could post a policy saying about what you mentioned in this post on your website or on the wall in the reception area, your nurse or medical assistant could mention these things to patients...
Your secretary should call all patients with appointments the day before and confirm the appointment and remind them of issues like these (one at a time), and also remind them to always bring their medications with them.
Your secretary could hand out one page questionnaires where you ask patients to list those things...

When I counsel patients on a topic such as menopause, HPV, Gardasil vaccination etc and I see that I repeat myself more than three times, I write it down, create a leaflet, eedit it a few times and then have it in my exam rooms so that I can easily hand it out. Just write down what you are saying to the patients in plain English - voila, leaflet is ready!
Your Matthias Muenzer, MD

7:54 PM

 

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