Do you ever feel like the doctors already know what’s wrong with you before they actually see you? I mean, really? They haven’t set one eye on you, but they are already convinced that they know what’s wrong.
I’ve had a couple of doctors have preconceived notions about me before they actually hear any of my complaints. First off, I’m a large guy, I realize this, I’m big. I’ve always been big, I was almost 10 pounds when I was born. I’m 6′ 3″ and wear a size 15 shoe, and yes, I’m overweight, I realize this, but for my height and body type, I’m not EVER going to weigh in at 145 pounds. I would look like a freaking flagpole!
So, going in and actually having the doctor hear that, it’s not my weight, or some other condition that is a result of my weight has been really hard. It’s a constant fight when seeing a new doctor to show them that I’m a pretty healthy person, all things considered. I actually had a doctor ask, “How much do you eat?” Gobsmacked, I answered, “not that much”, my wife answered, “I can actually out eat him most of the time.” His answer to that really floored the both of us. “Yes, that’s what you see him eat, but what does he hide from you?” Needless, both I and my wife were VERY unhappy at the end of that appointment, but in the end, it turned out well, that doctor finally stopped long enough to actually listen to me and realize it wasn’t my weight that was the problem.
So, apparently based on this study and this article doctors only listen to their patients on average of 11 seconds before interrupting them… let that sink in. 11 seconds… Imagine if your child only allowed you to speak 11 seconds before they started screaming at you that they wanted dinner. Or, imagine if your significant other only allowed you to speak 11 seconds before they asked you to do some crazy item off a “honey do” list without any thought of what you might be doing or feeling at that moment. 11. FREAKING. SECONDS. This is just not appropriate nor is it considerate of us as humans!
I mean, seriously, it’s so bad, that two doctors got together and wrote a book about it (When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests) and blog about it! Clearly they know it’s a problem, then why don’t they do something about it?
Just like many of us in our chosen career fields we get complacent. We become stagnate and lose the passion and excitement we once felt for our jobs we once so dearly loved. In a 2008 survey of 12,000 doctors only 6% described their morale as being positive. So, let me break that down… 94% of the doctors out there hate their job. They just do it for the paycheck… I’d dare say that if I were to survey 12,000 individuals just passing on the street, I’d only end up with a slightly higher percentage of people who are really happy with their jobs.
So does that mean we are destined to have crappy doctors for the rest of our lives? No, we aren’t, remember that other 6%? Currently in the US alone we have a little over 1 Million active doctors, if we take 6% of that 1 Million we’d still have 60,000 doctors to serve the US population. And that doesn’t include the NPs, PAs, or RNs.. Okay, okay, so yeah, that does sound pretty bleak, so let’s look at what we as the patient can do to make the process a little easier for the doctor.
Here’s a few quick and easy things we can do to make life a bit easier for our doctors so maybe, just maybe, they can diagnosis us correctly the first time!
- Get to the appointment on time – yes, I know the doctor is always running late, but believe it or not, they are helping other patients. But if you get there late and others get there late, it’s a domino effect and will make all appointment late and more than likely the doctor will rush through all those appointments to try to make up time and leave on time at the end of the day.
- Make Notes – This one goes out to Lisa! She is my list maker. Go in the office with a list of questions or a bullet point list of items you want to discuss with your doctor. This way you have a concise idea of what you want out of the conversation.
- Bring someone with you – This will help you in multiple ways. If you are like me and suffer with brain fog or just get lost easy this will help you in the long run. The extra set of eyes and ears will help you make sense of all the medical mumbo jumbo that was just spouted out at you at 100 miles per hour!
- And finally, if they just won’t stop and listen assert yourself or have the person you brought with you stand up for you! You have to be your own health advocate! Unfortunately, our bodies are complicated machines and don’t really have an owners manual, and the manuals that are out there are written in worse english than that instruction booklet that came with the knockoff watch that breaks after two days.
In the end it all comes down to we have to make ourselves heard no matter what. If one doctor doesn’t hear us, find another. We have to be our own advocate and no matter what WE are in control, not them. We have total control of our healthcare and our life!
What’s the dumbest thing a doctor has said to you? Have you ever just stormed out of an office? (I know I’ve been tempted!) Tell us in the comments below!