Monday, March 07, 2011

My doctor does not tell me anything - Dr Malpani talks about the commonest patient complaints have

" My doctor never has time to talk to me or to explain to me what is happening !" This is the commonest complaint patients have about their doctors.

It's true that doctors are busy - and good doctors are in high demand, with enormous patient loads. Their time is precious - and the reality is that they do not have the luxury of sitting down and chatting with you.

However, there's no point in looking for problems - you need to find solutions ! You cannot change the constraints your doctor operates under - but there's a lot you can do to make the most of the limited time you have with him !

What are some useful strategies ?

1. Remember that your doctor is no longer the only dispenser of reliable medical information. This was true 50 years ago, when doctors had a monopoly on access to medical knowledge, which is why your grandparents were forced to turn to a doctor for more information about their health problems. The good news is that you can easily get high quality medical information on the net today. ( This information is likely to be far better than what your doctor can give you. It's often professionally produced ; rich in graphics ; and has no jargon, because it's produced for patients ! Most importantly, you can absorb it at leisure. ) You need to be a well-informed medical consumer and be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, but these are easy skills to master.
Do your homework before going to the doctor - and after wards as well , so you do not need to depend only on your doctor for information. This will also allow you to make better sense of what he is saying - and he does not need to waste time explaining the basics to you, so you can ave a higher-level conversation about your specific issues.

2. When you talk to your doctor, make notes . This will help you make sense of what's happening. It's also a good idea to ask your doctor if you can email him. He may not have much time to spare on a "face to face" conversation - but answering email is something he can do more efficiently when he is not seeing patients. Email is often better, because everything is documented; you can re-read the information until you absorb it; and you can share the information with medical friends and relatives !

3. Make friends with a staff member. Having an "insider" in the clinic can help you understand what's happening. While the doctor maybe a bottleneck, often his assistant or nurse may have more time to lavish on you. They are often a better source of information, because they use less jargon and are less intimidating !

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