Monday, September 10, 2012

Patients who ramble

Doctors are often criticized for not spending enough time with the patient or of giving them a chance to talk. A widely quoted study claims that doctors interrupt patients within seven seconds of the start of the consultation. While I agree that doctors can learn a lot by listening to patients, we also need to remember that patients will often ramble on and on and provide lots of irrelevant information , which just ends up wasting the doctor’s time and causes him to run behind schedule, thus affecting his ability to take care of his other patients efficiently. I think if patients were better organized and could prove to the doctor that they had taken the time and trouble to prepare themselves for the consultation , doctors would be much more respectful and would be willing to give the patient more time to present their viewpoint.

Because doctors are always running behind schedule , they need to make sure that each consultation is done as efficiently and effectively as possible. While they understand the need to get information from the patient, they need to focus on information which is medically useful , so that they can make the right diagnosis ; prescribe the right treatment ; and then move on to treating the next patient.

Unfortunately , doctors don’t have the luxury of having plenty of time to be able to have long conversations with their patients,  which is why they are forced to take a very professional  , impersonal view of the conversation. This allows them to make the right diagnosis and treat as many patients as possible in the time available to them.

Smart patients understand the time constraints under which the doctor functions. He understand that the doctor has other patients to see , and will help him work efficiently. Thus, if you organize all your records in reverse chronological order; prepare a one-page summary of your medical history ; and make a list of all the questions you need your doctor to answer, you will be able to have a much more productive conversation with him. He will respect you as being a well-informed patient , and will be grateful that you have takes the time and trouble to save his time and improve his efficiency . Remember that grateful doctors provide better medical care !

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