Communication at the Doctor’s Office
So I reviewed my Medical Week Posts for this week and they all boiled down to this – let’s all do a better job communicating. There. I said it. You can skip this week if you want to or you can stay tuned for some juicy stories.
As fervently as I believe that every general education teacher should take special education classes, I believe every doctor should take communication classes. Do they? I’ve mostly had doctors that communicate well and patiently answer my questions. In one recent exam, a new doctor was trying to get some information about Aidan. I have 10 years of info in my brain and had a hard time figuring out which pieces he wanted. It was very helpful when he gave some examples of what he may be looking for and was specific with his questions.
This may seem obvious, but it is totally inappropriate to leave a life changing diagnosis on an answering machine and advise that there are many books available if you have any questions. (Yes, that really happened to us). When successful patient outcomes rely heavily on patient education and compliance, it’s so important to educate us how to be involved.
We need to learn to ask questions and sift through information. We need to make sure we understand the answers. Patients need to honestly consider and communicate if they will be able to follow through on treatment. Doctors can help simply by checking in with patients during a visit. “Do you have any questions?” “Do you have any problems with this treatment?” “Would you like us to pay for a trip to Greece while you consider all of this?” You get the picture.