Joicy, thank you for this article. My Mom's oncologist drives me crazy. It's like he doesn't even remember her and when he does, he is extremely negative. I have tried to tell Mom that it doesn't have to be like this and this article might help my case. Thanks again, I appreciate it.
From: Becker, Joicy[SMTP:Joicy.Becker@PTSEM.EDU]
Reply To: email@example.com
Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2000 4:38 PM
Subject: [MOL] Pointers: talking to your Dr.
(The full article, "Divorcing your Dr." may be found at:
Below are some suggestions from Korsch and
other experts about how to develop a rapport
your physician and when it may be time to divorce your doctor:
* Speak up--tactfully. If something bothers you about
the doctor or the office, broach the
subject, but not in a hostile way. Saying you don't
think the doctor is hearing your concerns,
that you feel rushed or that the nurse was rude is
permissible. Demanding that the doctor give
you your "money's worth" or yelling at the staff is
likely to receive a chilly reception.
Sometimes the problem is symbolic, but important to
you nonetheless. Suppose you hate it
when a doctor calls you by your first name. "You
could say, 'You know I really don't like it
when you call me by my first name and I call you
doctor,' " suggested Korsch, who has done
* Don't wait until the last minute to bring up the
real reason for your visit. Doctors hate
so-called "doorknob questions"--those loaded, "Oh, by
the way" inquiries that require
prolonged exploration and explanation. Mention these
things first. That way you'll have more
time to discuss them.
* Be succinct. Some people chatter when they are
nervous and mention a litany of irrelevant
factors. Before you go in, think about what you want
to say. Don't expect the doctor to divine
the problem: You have to articulate it. Be selective
in your use of Internet information; many
medical Web sites contain information that is
misleading, outdated or not germane to your
problem. Don't come armed with reams of printouts
from the Web and expect the doctor to go
over them with you.
* If a doctor won't answer your questions or uses
incomprehensible medical jargon, be
persistent. If you find it hard to concentrate or
your problem is complex, take notes or use a
tape recorder. If you still find that you don't
understand, that your questions are not being
answered or that the answers don't make sense, find
* Choose carefully. Don't pick a doctor just because
he's nearby. Figure out what's important
to you in a physician and schedule a consultation
before you commit. "After all, you wouldn't
buy a car without driving it or at least sitting in
it," said Mack Lipkin Jr., director of primary
care at the New York University School of Medicine.
* Trust your instincts. Good relationships with a
doctor are predicated in large part on
chemistry. If you don't like her or you feel uneasy,
find another physician.
* But don't be seduced by a doctor with a great
bedside manner--and little else. Empathy is no
substitute for clinical excellence; ideally they go
together. "There are a great many quacks who
have a great bedside manner," Lipkin observed. "At
the same time there are doctors who are
technically outstanding but can't relate to people."
* Dump a doctor who gets mad when you mention seeking
a second opinion, or says you
don't need one. "It means he's got an MDeity
complex," said Korsch.
* If your chief complaint is waiting time, ask the
doctor how to minimize this. It may mean
arranging to have the first appointment of the day or
calling ahead to see if the doctor is on time
or running late.
* Divorce a doctor who has made a serious mistake,
wasn't honest or failed to communicate
test results in a timely manner. You'll probably
never be able to trust him again.
If you've tried and continue to feel that you can't
communicate or that the doctor is dismissive,
insensitive or disinterested, find a new doctor. As
Lipkin noted, "Even though it may not
matter now . . . that you can't talk to your doctor,
in the future your life may depend on it."
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