Doctor-Patient Relationship

You Are Not Your Disease

You'll hear this one a lot from well-meaning professionals who think they're helping you when they say this. It's not their fault! They were taught this way. They completely missed it when you introduced yourself and said, "Hi, my name is..." They heard you say, "Hi, I have the disease you read about in my file, I supposed I don't need any introduction."

How to Get Doctors to Listen

Doctors notoriously have no time. This is fine if you're visiting for something simple like the flu or a broken bone. However, when trying to discuss a chronic illness that has raged on for years, and possibly decades, a 15 minute visit in which the patient is given less than 3 minutes to tell their doctor what's going on, is simply inadequate and is hugely unfair to patients and doctors. How can doctors get a complete picture of a patient's complaint if they spend less time on it than a commercial break? They can't! So do your doctor a favor and force them to listen. Schedule more time at the first visit if need be, but most importantly: tell your story.

Chronic Illness Patient Etiquette 101

Our society has this sort of fairy-tale notion of doctors... kinda Norman Rockwell. It's a good thing--we want to believe the best. We want to believe that when we get injured or sick, we're going to be met with compassionate, concerned, informed professionals who will do everything in their power to make us whole again. The reality is a lot worse... for everyone.

Faith in sickness and pain

When we talk about faith, it doesn't have to be about the divine. Regardless of what faith your are, or if you have no religious faith at all, a chronic illness can really test your beliefs. I'm on the fence as to whether there is a God, or gods, or whatever. But that doesn't mean that I have a lack of faith. Faith is still fundamental to human existence. I see faith as the absolute confidence that something is true, even if it hasn't come to be yet. Faith to me doesn't even have to be spiritual. It can be faith that the electricity will work (the bill is paid). All types of faiths get challenged in sickness and pain, and there are several ways to respond. I choose to respond in the way that best benefits the situation.

I know who to blame for why your doctor has no time.... -<br />Patients continue to complain that physicians don't spend enough time examining and talking with them.
There's a great story from National Public Radio, about why doctors have had to rush appointments (What's Up, Doc? When Your Doctor Rushes Like The Road Runner). The short answer? Doctors aren'tpaid to listen. Health insurance companies don't reimburse enough for listening. And in a lot of cases, believe it or not, doctors are running so close to the red, they can't afford to listen, as a result.

You're Fired!! (or, How To Find A New Doctor)

It's one of the scariest, most humiliating events that can happen in a patient's life. The doctor comes in and says, "I'm sorry, but we have nothing left for you." That's it. Maybe a 30-day supply of meds, but it's over... You've been fired as a patient. Your heart breaks, and sometimes they even blame you as an excuse to cover their @$$. You feel defeated, abandoned, and most of all, rejected. I thought being fired meant the doctor had decided there was no hope left for me. And for the first six times it happened to me, I felt suicidal afterwards. But thankfully I had friends and former doctors who told me through my tears that it was NOT my fault, and there are doctors out there willing to help. It's just a matter of finding them, which I was finally able to do. Here's how...

Medical Arrogance and the Effects of Prejudice

Doctors sometimes know this as "The God Complex," when doctors become so entrenched in what they believe they know that they are not willing to see things any other way. Horrific mistakes have been made simply because the doctor believed they were right. Yet patients aren't the only victims of medical arrogance. There is one story about medical arrogance that really blew my mind, because I had ended up exactly the same as the victim in this story. And more than that, the victim of medical arrogance in this story was a doctor himself, who found out just how nasty medical arrogance can get.

The Realities of Patient Engagement

It's pretty simple: If you want people to be engaged in a process, make that process engaging. However, too often doctors believe that just because they have the right answers, that alone should be enough to make patients follow their instructions. This attitude was highlighted in a recent interview with Joseph Kvedar, MD head of the Center for Connected Care, regarding the creation of MHealth, a new patient app that won a $468,000 grant from the Robert Wood John Foundation.

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