We have all heard about abbreviated doctor appointments: 15 minutes — even 11 minutes — for an annual checkup is not uncommon. As patients, we must stop allowing doctors to cut us short while jumping to a diagnosis.
A Consumer Reports study says, “Those who said they rarely received respect from the medical staff were 2-1/2 times as likely to experience a medical error — such as a hospital-acquired infection, a wrong diagnosis, an adverse drug reaction or a prescribing mistake — as those who thought they were usually treated well. In fact, 29% of people in our survey said an error occurred.”
Purchasers of medical care — that’s you and me in the doctor’s office and/or the hospital — must demand the same courtesy, service and quality of product that we do from The Cheesecake Factory. It’s literally life or death for us, as this quote from an OpEd piece in The New York Times reveals: “In The New England Journal of Medicine, Harvard health policy researchers reported that higher patient satisfaction was associated with improved outcomes for several diseases, including heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia.”
“On average, physicians wait just 18 seconds before interrupting patients’ narratives of their symptoms.”‘Doctor, Shut Up and Listen’ By Nirmal Joshi The New York Times
What can you do? Start by treating your doctor and/or physician’s assistant (PA) as a professional whose time and advice you are paying for. Be a partner in your health care:
- Get and maintain eye contact with your doctor during conversation.
- Be prepared to be specific about any pain or discomfort.
- Be clear about your medical history.
- Be specific about any prescriptions, herbal medicine, OTC drugs or illegal drugs you have taken recently. Your doctor won’t judge you.
- Tell your doctor about changes in your life or your family’s health. The death of a beloved pet or the onset of Alzheimer’s in a parent affects your health and care.
- Before the doctor or PA leaves the room, ask what the diagnosis is and if you need to make any lifestyle changes.
- If the doctor suggests a prescription, ask him about the side effects (print out our Questions Your Heath Care Provider Will Welcome and pull it out during this conversation).
- Ask the doctor what to do if the prescription doesn’t make you better. How long should you wait before calling the doctor or going to the ER?
Your health is in your hands — MedShadow helps you find the facts.