Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How being a good patient helps you to get a good doctor

Most articles on improving doctor-patient communication tell doctors that they must learn to be empathetic, and see things from the patient's point of view. While this is great advise, the sad truth is that most doctors so busy, that they find it very hard to be able to implement this.

I feel it is equally important that patients learn to see things from the doctor’s point of view. Just like there are good doctors and bad doctors , it is equally true that there are good patients and bad patients; If you are a good patient, the chances of your getting high quality medical care are much better.
It’s actually quite easy to do this ; and all your need to do is to put yourself in your doctor’s shoes. The doctor wants to help you get better - but he does operate under certain constraints; and if you realize this, you can help him to provide you with better care.

For one thing, doctors are very busy , and they have a limited amount of time they can devote to you. Secondly , they are part of a team, which means they are limited by the efficiency of the other members of their team. Thirdly , like all of us, they have financial constraints , and cannot gratify all your desires. Finally, the doctor is not God, and because the human body can be so complex , it is not always possible for them to fix all your problems, even though they would like to do so.
A good patient understands this , and will try to help the doctor to do as much as he can.

Thus, smart patients are well organized and store their own medical records and reports carefully. They do their homework and research, so they can ask the doctor targetted questions, which apply to their specific problem. Remember that the doctor only has a limited amount of time to spend with you – and the better your questions, the better his answers ! Also , considerate patients understand that doctors are busy and will not waste their time with unnecessary phone calls or visits.

Good students know how to get the most from their teachers – they help their teacher to help them to learn more. Similarly, smart patients also help their doctor to help them get better ! Just like your doctor has an agenda, you need to have one too – this helps both of you !

Finally, please remember to say Thank you ! Happy patients make for happy doctors .
If you want a good doctor, learn to be a good patient !

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