How to Get Your Doctor to Take You Seriously… In a Seriously Short Office Visit
Physicians now, more than ever, are in a colossal time crunch to rush through appointments to meet their daily patient quota and to perform more procedures. So, some patients feel that what they get from their visit is something akin to, “Hi and goodbye and here is your lab slip.” The truth is, more individuals are being seen now because of the Affordable Care Act. The act has extended access to health coverage to an estimated 30 million previously uninsured people (which is great), and doctors now have to meet the demand of an added patient load (which is not so great). So, how can you make the most of these “micro visits” and still maintain a good doctor-patient relationship? And, how do you convey all that you are feeling when your doctor has one eye on your chart and one eye on the door?
I am sure many of you have experienced that wave of frustration that sets in when you leave your doctor’s appointment with so many unanswered questions. Or, you leave feeling like you were not heard and your pain was not validated. With a decrease in patient/doctor dialogue due to sandwiched office visits, how could you not feel frustrated?
Below are some helpful tips to getting your doctor to take you seriously in a seriously short office visit. Back to top
Write Out Your Questions In Advance
When you know time is ticking, it is difficult to remember all the things you promised yourself (and your caregiver, family, dog:-) you would bring up at your visit. That is why it is crucial to write down all your questions beforehand. And for a list of important questions to ask your rheumatologist see our blog on tips for your first visit to the rheumatologist. Though you may not have an M.D. after your name, you know yourself inside and out. In the long run, your doctor will be thankful that you offered a concise checklist instead of rambling on about non-essentials or freezing up and not knowing what to say at all. Back to top
SPEAK UP! Doctors are doctors, not mind-readers. I know, shocking right? The more you convey how you are feeling and ask important questions, the more he/she will be engaged in what truly is going on. Be persistent in explaining your own preferences when it comes to treatment. There is usually more than one option, so instead of settling for another prescription, ask what may be behind door number two. A 1999 study found that doctors would only let a patient speak for 24 seconds before redirecting them. So, the moral of the story is, speak up, be strong and be straightforward. TIP: If you are in pain, try not to come to your appointment looking like you are hitting the red carpet. As silly as this sounds, doctors are visual (just like the rest of the human race) and they can make assumptions based on how you look. All natural works best. Back to top
Check Your Fear At The Door
Don’t be afraid to disagree with your doctor. Doctors are people–albeit, incredibly smart and gifted people, but people nevertheless. If you are in pain and you know your pain has changed, make sure to clearly state that you feel something is wrong. Even if your doctor has treated your pain in the past and you are getting the “It’s all in your head” vibe…repeat yourself. A LOT. This is about shared decision-making – your voice matters.
Lupus and some of its overlap diseases can be incredibly challenging to treat and diagnosis. Lupus is often referred to as the “great imitator” because its symptoms can overlap with so many other conditions. If your doctor is struggling to define your symptoms as lupus, but you feel that is what is going on…you are not alone. It can take some people years to receive a lupus diagnosis. Validation is incredibly important in the patient/doctor relationship. TIP: If you are afraid of your doctor and his or her thoughts on your condition, it may be time to find one with whom you feel more comfortable speaking your mind. Back to top
When it comes down to it, it is not the amount of time that you spend with your doctor, it is how that time felt. Were your concerns acknowledged, your questions answered, your problems expressed? You already feel so lousy, the last thing you want to feel is deflated, dejected and depressed when you leave the doctor. Hopefully, these tips will help you move forward with a more successful visit, no matter if you are the first patient of the day or the fiftieth.
Sources: www.medicaid.gov/affordablecareact/affordable-care-act.html, www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/20/doctor-visits-time-crunch-health-care, health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/healthcare-headaches/2010/08/10/3-ways-to-get-your-doctor-to-take-your-pain-seriouslywww.commonwealthfund.org, www.everydayhealth.com/lupus/lupus-diagnosis-start-to-finishwww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed
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