Thursday, June 25, 2009

Being a 'Difficult Patient' Could Compromise Your Quality of Care

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Kevin MD recently wrote about a study indicating that doctors are frustrated by the behaviors of as many as 15% of their patients. The most common complaints are:
1. Failing to disclose use of herbs and supplements.
2. Stopping medications without telling the doctor.
3. Refusal to make lifestyle changes and seeking an easy or quick fix.
4. Demanding a certain medication.
5. Demanding every test under the sun.
Interfering loved ones in the exam room.

How Patients Can Annoy Their Doctors

Kevin makes a lot of valuable points, but I have just a couple of thoughts to add.

It's important to view the doctor patient relationship as a partnership. Your role as the patient is not to dictate or demand; the doctor's role is not to blindly acquiesce to your requests. It is essential to work together to come up with ideas and solutions and discuss the merits and drawbacks of each possibility.

I'm a firm believer in sticking to your guns when you have an instinct about a particular approach to your medical care. However, it is also important to be open minded and willing to change your mind if you are presented with information you weren't already aware of. We all have strongly held convictions about certain issues, but as intelligent people we also know that as we learn more our views evolve. After all, if we knew everything there is to know why would we need to see doctors and other experts in the first place?

Finally, I'm in favor of bringing a loved one along to appointments for support and help processing the experience after the fact. However, it is important to choose someone who will be respectful of the doctor's need to interact directly with the patient and not chime in with negative, baiting comments that distract the patient and take valuable time away from the doctor. You know your loved ones, so be honest with yourself about who is a good choice to accompany you and who isn't.

Six Patient Behaviors That Drive Doctors Nuts

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.