It’s not uncommon to see doctors getting irritated with patients who know too much. Thanks to the Internet, it’s now possible for infertile patients to conduct research on their illness and treatment options. Many infertile women spend a significant amount of time scouring the net, hunting for the latest information and the best doctor. Since they spend so much time doing online research, they tend to become quite expert on their particular problem.
The Stark Truth
Armed with all that information, when they discuss their treatment options with their doctor, they also expect to be treated as well-informed patients, so they can have an intelligent discussion. The reality is far removed from their expectations; most doctors perceive them as threats. When a patient starts asking too many questions, it makes doctors uneasy and anxious. They wonder why the patients are asking so many questions of them and whether it’s because they don’t trust him.
A Waste of Time?
Some doctors go one step further and tell these well-informed patients that they are only wasting their time sourcing information from the Internet since they don’t have the knowhow to identify which information is accurate and then make sense of it. They tell their patients that its far better that all this is best left upto him, who will make the right decisions for them; as he is the expert with years of experience behind him.
In my opinion, this is nothing but an archaic paternalistic approach; unfortunately a number of doctors are very comfortable with it. When a patient starts asking any questions, they eke pleasure out of the situation by “putting him in his place”; they do this by asking the patient very complex technical questions, which the latter obviously would not know the answer to- in effect, this becomes a kind of mockery they use to slight the patient. They freely use medical jargon and this becomes their way of emphasizing their superiority. It’s their way of letting the patient know exactly who controls the reins in the room.
Adding Fuel to the Fire
What’s interesting is the fact that many family members worsen the situation; they dissuade patients from sourcing information online as they feel that “half knowledge is dangerous”. Their other fear is that if they appear to be a “know-it-all” when they visit the doctor, it may antagonize him. This attitude does nothing either for the doctor or the patient. The truth is that a well-informed patient:
• Can form a partnership with the doctor
• Is much easier to treat
• Has realistic expectations about his/her treatment
Time to Look for another Doctor?
If your doctor gets irritated when you ask questions, that's his problem, not yours ! Doctors should treat expert patients as valuable allies, who can help them learn about the patient's perspective. If you find your doctor starts getting upset when you try to have an intelligent discussion with him, this may mean he suffers from an inferiority complex, because he is not willing to engage with you as a respected equal, and you might be better off finding another doctor.
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