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You And Your Healthcare

By Staff | Oct 21, 2009

A lot of the news we hear now is about health care.

Having experience working in the field and being a patient, this issue is of great importance to me.

I feel not enough patients take the responsibility for their own care. Just going to see a physician can be a terrifying experience. For some it even causes a raise in blood pressure. Some patients don’t ask enough questions, some physicians don’t give enough information.

Patients preparing for surgery are naturally frightened. Many physicians seem to forget this. Doctors often don’t take enough time explaining the procedures. Most patients have no idea of the procedures. Also, we seem to have big problems with physician’s attitudes. Many times they look at you as if you should know these answers, or why should you even ask.

One Golden Rule when going to a doctor for any reason is making a list of questions before going! The doctor is not a mind reader. If you don’t give him/her all the things that are ailing you, he could miss an important diagnosis. Once inside that office your mind tends to forget many of the things that are important for you to ask. Another one is to keep a list of the medicines you take in your wallet. This saves time when filling out all those forms and in being asked what medicines you take.

Another one of the things that upset many patients is when the doctor asks why you are there. I’ve had several friends who really got upset by this question. The patients don’t realize how many patients the physician has seen since he/she saw them. We would like to think we are the only patents, but that just isn’t the case.

Waiting for your appointed time is also one of the things that bug me. Many doctors must feel either you are in no pain, or that your time is not as valuable as theirs. One surgeon I worked for would call from the hospital after making his morning rounds. His questions always started with how many patients this morning. If I had less than 21, he would ask just how many I had booked at another time. His idea was to see two patients every 10 minutes, and you felt his mood strongly is he didn’t have that many booked to see. Maybe for some patients five minutes is enough, but that is not the way I feel. On the other hand, another surgeon I worked with wanted 45 minutes booked for new patients.

One of the clinics I worked in had nine physicians and a dentist. The rush for power each day was funny in a way. Each morning I had to ask one doctor who had the power stick for the day; she would wink at me and say they hadn’t voted yet. So I had to inform all employees that all of the physicians had the power stick.

If many physicians treated their staff as well as they treated their patients, turn over in employees would not be nearly as high. It is not a pleasant way to start to work with a knot in your stomach. I realize physicians have a lot on their minds, but a happy staff should be one of them. Seems if they are upset it affects the entire office staff. I have never been able to convince them if they didn’t have a staff, they would have no patients. I know many physicians are good, but I don’t think they can answer a constant ringing phone, make appointments, and get the patients ready to be seen. The pay scale for office employees could also be upgraded to a higher standard. One physician actually told me, as his office manager, it was a prestigious thing to be working in his clinic. I answered him back that somehow that just didn’t put food on my table. One clue to me is a happy staff is very visible when one goes to the doctor.

Some physicians certainly need an attitude adjustment. I know they are important in our well being, but come on, they can act as if they are human.

The thing that has amazed me the most here in this area is that the patient must fill out an application before being accepted by that doctor. Having worked in the field, and living in several different areas, both metropolitan and small towns, I have never heard of this. I prefer to select my own physician and I have been known to leave after only one visit. For one reason or another, our personalities did not click. Here the shoe is on the other foot. I called one office here to see about getting an appointment and was told I would have to fill out an application first and they would be happy to mail me the forms to fill out. I asked how long this would take and why I had to do that; the reply was that is the policy and she had no idea how long it would take. I said, “Forget it.” Her reply was, “Oh that’s okay, he has a stack of them on his desk he hasn’t even looked at.”

I do not go to a doctor because I have nothing better to do; and all my

former doctors know that. When I am ill; I want to see a doctor. I realize doctor-hopping is a current trend. Many times it is to try to get prescription drugs, but in this situation a patient can be put in that category by the policy of the doctor deciding if he/she will see you.

Again, if I am not comfortable with him/her, then I will try to find another one. Does this make me doctor hopping? Yes it does, but it is a sad thing to admit I am only trying to find a doctor who I feel is qualified to be in his/her position and has a personality I can deal with.

Since I have been back home, I did go to a specialist that had the personality of a cold fish. I do have to admit that doctor did get to the cause of my problem, but if I had to see another in that field of medicine I would never go back to that doctor.

I did mention to the doctor’s receptionist that I felt that would be a horrid place to work. Her smiling comment was, “You should be here when the mood of the doctor is bad.” No thanks, I don’t need to be treated as if I am taking up his/her valuable time.

I did have to try to keep a surgeon I work with in a pleasant mood when he would come in from the hospital having done a surgery that took hours. I reminded him he went into this field knowing surgeries were his choice in his training. I guess that is why he started calling me boss lady (with a smile).

Taking a child to see a physician also poses other responsibilities on the patient. I have been in some offices where the person bringing children into a physician’s office tend to forget about the child, or children. They are totally out of control as the parent looks on or reads. They tend to forget most that are in those waiting rooms are sick and really prefer not to have to listen to unruly children. I have also heard the parent tell children if you are not good that doctor will give you a shot.

What a horrid thing to tell the child. If a shot is needed, the child usually starts screaming before they get the shot. I was honest with my sons when they were small, and told them, yes it will hurt for a little while, but it will make you feel better.

Both patients and physicians need to change a bit. Patients need to take more responsibility of their own health and physicians need to be more considerate of both their staff and their patients.