I’m a terrible patient, and I find that doctors can be very condescending.
At some point in our lives, most of us would have encountered doctors who act quite rude and egoistic. They seem to be oblivious to the patient’s suffering, act as if they did not hear your questions and give you a feeling that they have better things to do than listening to you.
Why does it annoy us so much? Do we react the same way if someone else behaves that way? For example, a lawyer, a hotel manager or a government employee?Probably not.
There may be a few reasons for this:
Our expectations are higher when it comes to health professionals, especially doctors. We expect them to know everything about health issues, which is not the case always.
Fear of sickness, ill-health and death is the worst of all fears. This makes us press for some definitive answers which the doctors may not be able to give, at least in the short term.
When we see a doctor, we are already in distress and in no mood to endure improper behaviour so even a small frown from the doctor seems rude, which we otherwise do not mind. And all the more frustrating, we need to wait hours and hours before we finally see him. The joke is that your disease might either vanish or kill you by the time you get to see the doctor!
Many of us would have had bitter experiences with some doctors, but there are also many who owe their lives to doctors. Though there are some doctors who are in the field just for money, it’s just bad to generalise. It’s like saying engineers can work with only machines and not humans, or all lawyers are liars.
I’m not trying to justify the rude behaviour, but why not try to understand the doctor a bit to create a conducive environment and good relationship with him so that both of you can work towards achieving better health for you?
I have quite a few doctors in my family, so I’ve heard their part of the story too. That’s the reason I wanted to discuss the topic here today.
How to make the most of your visit to the doctor and his expertise?
He is equally anxious, if not more
Isn’t it scary and stressful to be responsible for the health and lives of sick people? It’s better not to press for answers immediately; he needs time to assess the patient’s symptoms and arrive at solutions, based on the limited (sometimes vague) information given to him. Let’s face it, sometimes there is no definitive solution, so trial and error is part of medical treatment. We wouldn’t be alarmed anymore if we understand this. No wonder they call what the doctors do as “practice”!
Each doctor’s approach may differ
Most doctors choose a conservative course of action, but some may be aggressive. That does not mean one is a good doctor while the other is not. Also, each patient is different. The doctor may not prescribe the same medication to 2 different individuals suffering from the same disease.
The doctor is not all-powerful
Despite his expertise and knowledge, there are certain things beyond his control. If we don’t want the doctor to behave like God, we should stop imagining him like one. He will try his best, keeping in mind the best interests of the patient, but he may not always succeed. Isn’t that the case in any occupation? The difference lies in the fact that it’s a matter of life and death. A doctor’s mistake is the costliest, unfortunately.
Competence or compassion?
It’s sometimes unfortunate that you have to choose between the two. Would you rather see a doctor who is kind to you, listens to you with compassion, but fails to address the issue or one that knows exactly your problem and how to deal with it, but is indifferent towards you? Behind that seemingly indifferent attitude lies years of gruelling medical course, practice and experience, not to mention enduring hostility from senior doctors, patients, colleagues, family, (yes, he also gets flak from his spouse for forgetting her birthday!) and error-prone staff and juniors, to the point of exhaustion.
The indefinite wait
This is the part we all hate when we get sick, more than the sickness itself. The delay might be due to an emergency, very sick patients, difficult and demanding patients, apart from the usual reasons we all have, like traffic and personal problems. It might make us feel better if we remember that we are not waiting and paying for the few minutes the doctor sees us, but the years of expertise and experience that he has. We can only try to make the time with the doc worth the wait by preparing beforehand.
Preparation can involve these:
- Write down the symptoms and other details like the time, how many days, etc. We always tend to forget at the wrong time, especially during sickness.
- Note down the relevant questions. Doctors don’t hate questions, but they hate unnecessary ones which waste their time and that of other patients.
- Carry only the medical records specific to the illness.
We can try to make the conversation crisp and precise; not only the doctor but the next patient will be thankful. Who knows, someone might do the same favour to you sometime!
The invincible internet
There is an overabundance of information available online which can have a flip side. A common complaint that doctors have is that some patients look up half-baked information online and question them. When I was doing some research before starting this blog, I realised how easily misleading some of the online information can be.
Obtaining information is, of course, necessary, but be careful to choose reliable sources. Getting information is the easier part, you need a doctor to comprehend the complex information. You can always ask your doctor, he will be happy to give you details of the sources of information specific to your illness. Better than being bombarded based on some irrelevant and incorrect information.
All this being said, if the doctor is not willing to listen or you find it difficult to communicate with him, it’s high time you find another doctor. Because communication is key to all relationships, especially those involving good health.
What are your experiences with doctors? Don’t forget to share.