You may feel nervous when it comes to questioning your doctor, but it is vital to your health that your care is a partnership and you feel heard by your physician.
Here are some resources to help you learn how to talk to your doctor.
Doctors don’t always have a reputation for being the best listeners. Studies have shown that when patients start to talk, doctors tend to cut them off, usually after about 17 seconds. That can be frustrating, but does it really affect your care? If the doctor is skilled, how important is it that he or she listens to you? Very important, experts say.
A classic study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that patients were allowed to finish their “opening statement of concerns” in only 23 percent of doctors’ visits. A more recent analysis found patients speak for an average of only 12 seconds before being interrupted by resident physicians.
When doctors are under stress the first thing that goes is the ability to listen and care. Unfortunately, these are also the two most important things to you as the patient. There is even a name for this symptom of stress in healthcare – Compassion Fatigue. No one has an endless supply of compassion. When it is gone, the ability to listen often goes along with it.
What happens when your doctor or health care provider doesn’t treat you well? What do you do when your doctor won’t listen to you or belittles you? Perhaps less obvious but still detrimental, what happens when they place more value on their opinion of what they think your health should look like than your opinion of what you want your health to look like?
Have you ever felt that little voice say “watch out” or “no” when you are at an appointment with your doctor? Have you ever felt that something just isn’t right even if you can’t articulate what that is yet?
What to do when the doctor isn’t listening to you or the person you’re caring for, not carrying out your wishes when it comes to treatment and medication choices, or recommending drugs or treatments that seem inappropriate for much older patients.
It may seem like a small thing, but surveys show that we also want doctors who aren’t in a horrendous rush, who will take a few extra minutes when needed to explain something we don’t understand or listen when we describe a complex series of symptoms.