Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Pros & Cons of Doctor-Patient Interactions

There are a lot of ways doctors are primed against patients. Frequently these are professional, psychological studies on "difficult patients." The problem is when you're a hammer, you can start to see everything as a nail. Doctors are problem-solvers. They expect to deal with problems at every patient encounter. However, it's not fair to see every patient interaction as a problem. Here's a list of pros & cons (and cons & cons) for patients when they deal with doctors.

Pro- you take responsibility for your health.
Con- "too many doctors encourage---or even demand---that [you] identify them (the doctor) as the sole source and authority for [your] medical care."

Pro- you're well educated on your disease and you know what you need based on what you've been through in the past.
Con- you get labeled as an "entitled demander" who is expected to "become hostile"... "if the doctor does question the demand."

Pro- you're vigilant about your symptoms, keeping records of how you're doing so the doctor can have a complete documentation of your disease.
Con- "Patients deemed difficult included those with more than five symptoms..."

Con- you have symptoms that are difficult to treat.
Con- "It is much easier to say, "She is such a difficult patient! She is never happy with her care!" than to say, "I feel angry and helpless when I see her because it seems like nothing improves her symptoms!""

Con- you have symptoms that can't be seen on a scan or proven with a blood test.
Con- you're seen as a patient "who repeatedly complain[s] about symptoms for which no physical cause can be found"

Con- you have chronic pain.
Con- "Treatment of chronic pain puts doctors in a no win situation."

Just because a patient comes with problems doesn't mean the patient is a problem.

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