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13 MORE Things Good Doctors Wish Their Patients Knew – Demystifying the Doctor Patient Relationship

13 MORE Things Good Doctors Wish Their Patients Knew - Demystifying the Doctor Patient Relationship | https:/cozyclothesblog.com

13 MORE Things Good Doctors Wish Their Patients Knew – Demystifying the Doctor Patient Relationship

I recently published an article called 13 Things Good Doctors Wish Their Patients Knew- Demystifying the Doctor Patient Relationship. If you haven’t read Part One, take a quick trip over to that article to read the first 13 things. Thanks to my readers’ comments and social media shares, I have had some great feedback from doctors both in my life and around the world. Here are 13 MORE things good doctors wish their patients knew.

13 MORE Things Good Doctors Wish Their Patients Knew -  Demystifying the Doctor Patient Relationship | https:/cozyclothesblog.com

13 More Things Good Doctors Wish Their Patients Knew

  1. We need the complete truth.The doctor patient relationship; we need the truth
    I feel for patients when they seem hesitant to reveal something they deem embarrassing or shameful. Two things on that. First, we hear so much. There is very little that is truly shocking. The shock factor wore off early in our training, never to return. Secondly, we realize we haven’t walked a mile in your shoes. Or an inch. We take in the facts and then get down to the work of helping you; we don’t judge, and we certainly don’t gossip about you. But in order to take good care of you, we need the straight truth. Period. This means telling us about what drugs you’ve taken, legal and illegal, to avoid potentially fatal drug interactions. It means telling us exactly when you ate last before surgery in order to avoid a potentially deadly pneumonia. It means answering honestly about sexual encounters. We don’t need every detail, but we ask questions for very specific reasons and need your careful, honest, thorough answers to direct your care. At age 21, I had two back-to-back abdominal surgeries. For days afterwards, awkward surgical med students and interns came to see me on their rounds. They all wanted to know if I’d passed gas. Well, sheesh. I was a young woman in an already unflattering and revealing hospital gown. Of course I haven’t passed gas. Must you rob me of my last shred of dignity?! What I didn’t know was that this made them concerned that my bowels weren’t functioning properly. I wasn’t getting out of there until the answer was yes. I finally tumbled to it. Honesty would have avoided delay and directed my care more appropriately. It didn’t change my outcome, but trust me. A dishonest or partial answer to a medical question can have a terrible ripple effect. The truth is imperative. Clunky and awkward at times, but essential just the same.
  2. We get frustrated when we can’t find the answers. The doctor patient relationship; we get frustrated when we can't find the answers
    I hated having to tell patients “I don’t know.” As an ambitious problem solver, it is so frustrating not to be able to fix your problems and even more frustrating not to be able to explain their cause. Medicine is an ever-developing, inexact science with more questions than answers. I used to tell patients that I’d love to be able to climb in and take a look around. It would make things so much easier. In a way, imaging studies come close, but there are some things that will remain mysterious. It is so hard. It feels like failure on our part. We hate nothing more than letting you down.
  3. Antibiotics hurt if they can’t help. The doctor patient relationship; antibiotics hurt if they can't help
    Viral illnesses are not susceptible to antibiotics. Antibiotics are for bacterial illnesses only, and they need to be reserved for bacterial illnesses. Every time they are prescribed and taken inappropriately, the patient is being placed in harm’s way due to unnecessary potential side effects, and humankind as a whole is ever so slightly closer to a very scary eventual reality where bacterial infections are no longer susceptible to our medications. Antivirals are sometimes appropriate for viral illnesses, but for most viruses, like the common cold, they are useless and can be harmful.
  4. Sometimes, “watch and wait” is the most appropriate first reaction. The doctor patient relationship; sometimes waiting is best
    This can feel a lot like doing nothing, but trust me when I say that reacting to every situation with an imaging study, lab test, or medication can cause very dangerous and avoidable complications. If you trust your doctor, trust that sometimes time is the best clarifier.
  5. We make mistakes. The doctor patient relationship; we make mistakes
    It is impossible to reconcile our imperfection as humans with the gravity of having the well-being of our patients in our hands. The importance of providing thorough, thoughtful care in combination with being human is exhausting, weighty, and ever present. We do make mistakes. Be very wary of anyone who won’t admit that. We are extremely vigilant. But we can’t always be perfect. This is the very hardest thing about being a doctor.
  6. We are safe confidantes. The doctor patient relationship; we are safe confidantes
    I had a patient in residency that I always enjoyed seeing. After a couple of years of routine visits, she came to me for what she thought might be long standing depression. She was right, and I was taken aback. We had built a rapport. When I asked her why she hadn’t told me sooner, she said that she didn’t want to ruin my impression of her; that she thought I really liked her and she didn’t want that to change. I’m not sure how to have done things differently with her, and in the end she got the help she needed, but I wish she would have known earlier that I was a safe confidante. Confide in us. We can help you or guide you to someone who can help. We hate the stigma attached to mental health problems. They are so much more common than our patients realize, and we don’t look down on someone who needs help with mental health. It is intimately interwoven with your physical and spiritual health. The best care comes when a full picture is provided and each element attended to.
  7. Words can hurt us. The doctor patient relationship; words can hurt us
    Remember that we have feelings. We try not to take your behavior personally. We know that we see you during the most trying times of your life and are there to support you and walk through it with you, but remember that our jobs are only one facet of who we are. We are tender, vulnerable people just like you. This is a little difficult to talk about, but some patients are downright verbally abusive to doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. We have thick skin. We grew it during training. But I want to make sure I say that when a person is abused, the natural instinct is to retreat. We remain professional. We try to suppress our reaction to retreat. But a doctor or nurse in retreat mode isn’t in the position to administer the best kind of care. Just keep it in mind. I hope you are never in such an extreme situation that you find yourself behaving in an out of control, abusive way, but if you do, remember that your behavior can effect your care. It shouldn’t, and ideally it wouldn’t, but healthcare is administered by humans.
  8. We know lifestyle change is hard. The doctor patient relationship; we know lifestyle change is hard
    And boring. We struggle with it too. Chances are there is a box of donuts in the break room as we speak. It’s so hard to take the straight and narrow. We try and fail often. But sometimes a specific diet, or an increase in exercise, or abstinence from alcohol, or better sleep hygeine really are the best treatments for what you are going through. We know it’s not shiny and quick like a pill, but we must recommend what is truly best.
  9. We are not conspiring with insurance companies or drug companies. The doctor patient relationship; we are not conspiring with insurance or drug companies
    In fact, they drive us crazy. All we want to do is the very best, most appropriate thing for your care. When insurance companies tell us no or drugs are prohibitively expensive, it frustrates us. We are your advocates. You are our priority. Period.
  10. We come in all ages, genders, and races.The doctor patient relationship; we come in all ages, genders, and races
    This is another one that is hard to discuss without sounding defensive. Some doctors are women. Some are minorities. Some are older. Some are young. None of these factors can inform you as to the quality of care a particular doctor can provide. I’ll never forget a patient during residency asking if I was his doctor as I pushed him along the hall in a wheelchair at the VA. When I answered that I was, he said, “I don’t want to be taken care of by any kind of a teenager.” Inside, I laughed so hard, because it was funny to me. I love it when blunt truths are spoken. But I understood his hesitancy. I was really young. Being fresh out of training has its upside. Experience does too. A conscientious doctor of any shape, size, color, or age can deliver great care.
  11. We can be terrible patients. The doctor patient relationship; we are terrible patients
    When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I knew exactly how I was going to behave during labor. I planned to be quiet and stoic and focused and compliant. After all, I’d delivered hundreds of babies and had seen the full behavioral spectrum from unwavering stoicism to flailing, screaming, escape attempts. Well, my behavior was complete lunacy. I was so shocked, but I couldn’t help it. The pain was savage, and I felt so out of control. When I finally got an epidural (I’d planned to try without) after several hours of hard labor, I was so relieved that I practically proposed marriage to my anesthesiologist. With my husband by my side. Bananas! Then when my obstetrician decided to turn the epidural off so that I could feel to push, I panicked. When the pain returned full force, I said, “it hurts” at least nine hundred sixteen times. Just in case he hadn’t heard me the first time. My sweet doctor finally said, “it’s ok if it hurts.” Well, I begged to differ. I dreaded showing my face at my postpartum appointment, but he didn’t bat an eye.
  12. Some of us use hospitalists. The doctor patient relationship; some of us use hospitalists
    This is a bit dry, but I think it bears explaining. Most of you have a primary care physician, either a family physician, pediatrician, or internist. If you need to stay in the hospital overnight, you may be cared for by your primary care doc, the doc on call for him, or a hospitalist. Hospitalists are doctors that only do hospital care. They don’t do outpatient work. The drawback is that they don’t know you or your family and can’t follow up with you after discharge. The upside is that they deal with hospital-worthy illness all day every day and are well versed in appropriate care and the inner workings of their particular hospital.
  13. We don’t sneak in the back and google your symptoms. The doctor patient relationship; we don't sneak in the back and google your symptoms
    We only sneak in the back to eat donuts. No, really. If we come up with the same conclusion that you found when you googled, remember that we bring wisdom, experience, and an understanding of your history that makes our care for you unique. But sometimes google is right. I said it. Just be careful. The internet can lead you down a very dangerous path, can cause unnecessary panic that talking to your doctor could avoid, or can lead you to dismiss something that shouldn’t be ignored. And please be extra wary of online chat rooms and discussion boards. Straight up wrong advice can sound very convincing. There is no substitute for medical training, experience, and complex analysis.

Here are a couple of other articles from around the internet that you may also enjoy:

We want the very best for you. Just know that. It’s the bottom line.

Any questions

I’d love to hear your thoughts. As a patient, does any of this surprise you or make you angry?  As a health care provider, what rings true to you? What would be your number 27? Let’s talk about it!

  • […] about your doctor after reading my list. I can really only speak for myself, so check out Part 2: 13 MORE Things Doctors Wish Their Patients Knew here. I’ve interviewed the doctors in my life and some from around the world and anonymously […]

  • Caryn Mitcham says:

    Hello . Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings from a doctors point of view. There isnt a profession in the world that i have more respect and admiration for than a doctor/surgeon, they/you have our lives in your hands, i cant imagine the amount of pressure and stress that would bring. The studying alone deserves a major award, in my eyes anyway because that is just something i am not very good at. I know after reading this i will try to be more trusting and understanding,and just plain…nicer. i have been pretty frustrated and wanting to place blame somewhere, unfortunatly it ends up being the doctors to blame. I am just as much to blame though, i havent always communicated or even noticed my own side effects for a long time, its a long story, i have a mental illness , so finding the right coctail for a mental illness is a long process i know. Its exhausting , like you said, to have to repeat my story of symptoms over and over again 5 times in one day, too bad they couldnt just record the first conversation and pass it on to the doctor, but then of course the patient would be pissed that youre taking so long if they were unaware that you were back there listening to your crap so they can figure out the best way to help you. It is more than just throwing pills at a situation, and it should be. I need to do my part as well, diet / exercise etc.
    ANYWAY, this comfy clothes thing !!! What a great idea, im a homebody and i love/hate sweat pants, i want a nice patchwork pair of pants that i can lounge around in. I was going to start decorating my sweatpants lol. Which i probably will eventually. I cant wait to see what you come up with. Im going to see if i can follow you on facebook, i dont always check my emails.
    Thanks again for sharing.

  • Awmeme says:

    Interesting now I would to do a post on 13 things a good patient what’s doctors to know. As someone with chronic health issue’s (I’m on a a p and k transplant list plus other things). First and foremost doctors NEED to learn to listen to the patient. Whether your an primary care, ER or hospitalist doctor. Especially when people have on going medical problems we typically know our bodies very well.

    • cozyclothesblog says:

      This is a great idea! All doctors are patients, of course, but most aren’t chronically ill and could use a clearer picture of the situation from that perspective. If you are interested in collaborating on an article with more items you’d like doctors to know from a good patient’s perspective, email me at joanne.shelfieshoppe@gmail.com and let’s chat! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • I have to disagree with some of your sentiments about doctors. Are we talking specifically about patients with mental illness or doctors overall?

    I find it offensive that doctors are charging a “concierge service” for their help. Isn’t it enough that many have to pay for decent health insurance in this country? I don’t want to become political; therefore I will quickly digress and stick to the topic of your article.

    I liked my internist because he is knowledgeable about homeopath; whereas in the past, there were doctors who weren’t so supportive of it. I can respect their reasons. I decided to pay for this “service” for a year. My doctors front office person gave me examples of what I would be paying for: My doctor prefers to draw the blood from his patients and “supposedly”, I would receive my test results back quicker from him. Frankly, I wish he didn’t draw my blood because I have thin veins and it takes him 2-3 times to get in there. Again I digress. My doctor didn’t return my blood test results any faster nor did he bother to take the time to call me on the phone and explain my results. I heard from him after calling to find out when I would hear from him and it was via email. My thought was “That was $500 down the drain.” I am fortunate to be a relatively healthy and I found this service useless. Once again I will be on the hunt for a new doctor because I’m not paying the annual fee this year

    Now my husband has to see many doctors for his health issues and we can spend 30-40 minutes beyond the scheduled appointment at one office to be in a room for 15-20 minutes. This is a neurologist and no blood is drawn.

    I’m offended when my husband’s internist fails to call his patients or fails to update his medical chart after I called to tell him that he was prescribed a new medication and I spoke directly with him. Isn’t this negligent? The positive: He is one of very few doctors who has visited my husband on the weekend while hospitalized. He even takes his patients on time; however, he is not one for calling his patients. I swear his motto is “You call me because I won’t take any initiative to call you.” A about five months ago, he failed to call us and tell us that my husband had fractured a rib after taking a fall and after the XRay technician said that our doctor would call us with the results. A week later, he calls me and said, “Why didn’t you call me?” I told him that the technician said, “no news was good news and if there is a fracture, our doctor would call within 24-48 hours. My question was, why didn’t HE call us sooner?

    I’m not sure how much a doctor thinks about a patient until they are in front of them or have chronic/grave issues. There are too many patients. We end up what feels like being fed through a factory line in some instances before we even see the doctor. Due to an excellent reputation and especially successful surgeries, I’m sure many resign to accepting the good and bad about their doctor. At the end, who wouldn’t want that person on their team for the ultimate goal: a winning result.

    Bottom line: One has to be on top of one’s medical care or a loved one’s care at all times even when dealing with the most reputable hospitals and medical offices. We come to new offices with a medical profile and update the office with changes in medication. I can’t tell you how many times, even with the given medical profile that a doctor fails to really look at it. Ending on a positive note: We were recently complimented by three different staff members in a physical therapy office (front office, assistant PT and PT) about my husband’s extremely well-organized medical profile. We pleased that someone actually looked at it.

    • cozyclothesblog says:

      Robin, thank you for taking the time to read this article and comment. It sounds as if you have had a very frustrating medical road. You and your husband sound like a great team, and he is fortunate to have such an organized and attentive advocate. You make an excellent point. Medical care is always best if it is coordinated and well documented. As a patient and loved one of patients, I take my roll in this very seriously. It sounds like you do as well!

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