Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Doctors talking to doctors - why leave patients out in the cold ?

After a doctor ( usually a family physician) refers a patient to a consultant, the specialist sends a note ( often by email these days ) about what his findings were; his clinical opinion; and his recommendations. While this is very useful, often what happens as a result of one doctor talking to another is that the poor patient gets left out in the cold. He cannot decipher the jargon in the referral note or the consultant's opinion; and since specialists are often extremely busy, they rarely spend much time with the patient - or fob him off by saying that "your family physician will explain everything to you" !

We use an alternative model, which we feel is much better. Rather than send a note to the referring doctor, I explain to the patient what my findings are and what my advise is. I then request him to go back to the referring doctor, and to tell him what I said. I feel this is a better model for many reasons.

Firstly, the patient is center of all the action, so he does not get lost or confused.
Secondly, it's a great check on my communication skills as well ! If the patient can explain what my treatment plan is to the family physician, this gives a lot of comfort to the doctor that he has sent his patient to the right specialist.
Finally, this is an effective way of improving the level of medical knowledge about infertility in the entire community , so that the many myths and misconceptions which surround this get gradually dispelled.

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