You & Your Doctor: Is The Relationship Working?

It’s a tough question, but a pertinent one. Is the relationship with your doctor working? Many patients may not even consider the interaction between themselves and their doctor/s to be a “relationship”. They might even laugh at the thought, feeling the term is meant for something more intimate. But that’s exactly what it is — a relationship. One that has been discussed in thousands of medical articles and books, dating back to Hippocrates. And where Chronic illness is concerned, it’s a long-term partnership for your health. If it isn’t working, guess who suffers the consequences? You. 

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Doctors often know what spouses, partners and children do not know. After all, HIPAA now defines who a physician talks to about your health. It’s meant to protect your privacy. Discussions between a doctor and patient vary, i.e. diagnosis, medications, test results, symptoms, complications, etc. These are very important and highly personal. So, trust is key.

When trust exists between a doctor and patient, it is beneficial to both parties. Trust results in better communication and smarter decisions. That in turn results in the best of health care. A good doctor-patient relationship is the foundation for ethically practicing medicine. It is the responsible approach, by any physician. And one that every patient can certainly appreciate.

Do you trust your doctor? Are you comfortable discussing your health with him/her?When you have an appointment, do you feel that you are given adequate attention? Are your test results explained to your satisfaction? Were your questions answered? Were you even given an opportunity to speak? If you answered “no” to one or more of these questions, then you may seriously need to consider the future of your doctor-patient relationship.

Do you feel as if you aren’t being heard (not for lack of trying)? Do you sometimes feel like a helpless guinea pig? Have you ever left your doctor’s office feeling like you’ve just experienced a fly-by from an F-22? Dazed. Scared. Frustrated. Anxious. Has your condition worsened under your doctor’s treatment approach? Have you lost confidence in your doctor’s abilities? Or in his/her game-plan for your health? Have you ever felt insulted by your doctor’s remarks? Or perhaps it was his/her tone that made matters worse? Does the thought of finding another doctor ever enter your head? If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, then your doctor-patient relationship has issues. You may need to make a change.

Back in 2006, a medical study asked Mayo Clinic patients what traits they considered to be “ideal” for any doctor. The patients involved were seen by doctors in 14 various medical specialties. The seven most sought traits, according to those participating in the study, were as follows:

  • Empathetic
  • Humane
  • Confident
  • Forthright
  • Personal
  • Respectful
  • Thorough

It’s not a lot to ask, when you think about it. Does your doctor fit the description? Or do you wish that he/she did? Only you know for certain.

If change is on the horizon, it’s important to do a little “homework” beforehand. There are reference links below that can help you. But, first and foremost, talk to your healthcare insurance. You want a doctor that is in their network. Healthcare is expensive and complicated enough. There’s no need to exacerbate those areas. Next, you want to know about the doctor’s Board Certifications. Where did he/she attend Medical School? Some are more distinguished than others. Then, you should consider the hospital/s that is connected to the doctor. This is where you may one day go for tests, treatment, possibly surgery. Be aware of any disciplinary action, or lawsuits, that involve the doctor or hospital. Ask about the doctor’s connections with Big Pharm. Is he/she working for you or them? You want the best medication for your condition, not a choice that has been heavily influenced by a sales-pitch. And, unfortunately, this does happen. So, don’t be shy. Ask questions. Expect and get answers. What are their office policies? Do they offer Patient Portals that are available 24/7 online? This is a relationship; remember? If it feels right, move forward and make the change. If not, keep looking until a more compatible physician can be found. 

Your health and well-being depends greatly upon your doctor and the relationship that you build with him/her. So, never hesitate to be actively involved. This is, after all, your life. If you have a doctor who you can trust, then you have the makings of a good relationship. Talk candidly. Work together. Become a team. You will find that you’re better equipped to manage your Chronic illness and less stressed. Setbacks are inevitable, but so are the solutions. And a better quality of life is always the goal!

 

Reference Links:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1496871/

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/news/20060309/7-key-traits-of-ideal-doctor#1

http://certificationmatters.org/

https://apps.ama-assn.org/doctorfinder/

https://www.healthgrades.com/

https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/hipaa-privacy-rule

https://www.abms.org/board-certification/

https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/code-medical-ethics-patient-physician-relationships

*Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

 

 

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