Saturday, September 04, 2010
My doctor does not answer my questions !
This is one of the commonest complaints patients have about their doctor. It's true that doctors are very busy and have lots of patients to see. While it would be great if your doctor had all the time and patience and energy in the world to answer your questions, the truth is that the amount of time you have with your doctor is going to be limited.
It's part of a doctor's job to educate his patients. A doctor who does not do this is not a good doctor, simple. However, it can be very boring for a doctor to answer the same questions again and again - and doctors are human too - they get fed up and bored as well !
How can you help your doctor to make the most of the limited time you have with him, so he can clear your doubts and answer your queries ?
The best way to to do this is to get your doctor to respect you, so that he treats your concerns and doubts with courtesy . However, you need to earn this respect. The best way of doing so is by being well-informed; and you can do this by educating yourself as much as possible about your problem, both before you visit your doctor , and afterwards. This will allow you to be
considerate with the doctor's time, so that you can ask him specific, pointed queries . ( Doctors are smart and most like answering clever questions - it's the ones they are asked all the time which they find boring !)
Some patients just ask questions for the sake of asking these. These just waste the doctor's time and irritate him - causing you to lose his goodwill and respect. Thus, many question are best answered by the support staff , rather than the doctor. ( If you need to know what the clinic timings are, please ask the receptionist, not the doctor !)
Other patients have a long laundry list of questions. While I approve of the fact that patients have taken the time and trouble to write their questions down, it also bothers me that they have not bothered to find out the answers to these questions by just taking the time to visit our website at www.drmalpani.com ! I do get upset by intelligent patients who do not take the effort to go online and educate themselves about their problem. If they will not take the trouble to help themselves, why should they expect their doctor to go out of his way to help them ?
If a doctor gets irritated with your questions, this means he does not respect you. This is not acceptable behaviour. If he is very busy , he does not need to do the basic education himself - he can do it through his website; with DVDs; or with the help the help of a nurse. Clever doctors will get an assistant to explain the basics, so they only have to explain advanced concepts ( as to how the treatment will be tailored for the individual patient) .
I prefer answering my patient's questions by email . Most questions are ones other patients have asked me in the past, so it's quite easy for me to answer these quickly and efficiently. Because the answer is documented , there is less confusion and this saves the patient time and anxiety ! This is far more efficient than asking questions face to face, or with a phone call !
Taking time to educate yourself has lots of advantages. The doctor does not need to waste time going over the basics ; and because he knows you've done your homework, it helps him to have a more high level discussion with you . Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease !