What Doctors Really Think, or More on Doctor-Patient Communications
It’s pretty clear what most of us what in our medical care:
Reasonable wait times. Open and respectful doctor-patient communications. Doctors who listen. High-quality treatment.
What do doctors say about us, though, especially when they can remain anonymous? Reader’s Digest talked to 24 doctors and therapists about “medical secrets,” and some even used their real names.
You’re going to love some of these. Check out all 41 in the article, but here are my favorites:
One of the things that bug me is people who leave their cell phones on. I’m running on a very tight schedule, and I want to spend as much time with patients as I possibly can. Use that time to get the information and the process you need. Please don’t answer the cell.
–James Dillard, MD, pain specialist, New York City
*I want to spend as much time with patients as I possibly can.*
I can just hope my family’s doctors feel this way, too. If they don’t, they hide it well.
If a sick patient comes to me with a really sad story and asks for a discount, I take care of him or her for no charge.
–Surgeon, Dallas/Fort Worth
Notice how this doctor chose to stay anonymous instead of getting the free advertising for charitable work? Classy.
Though we don’t cry in front of you, we sometimes do cry about your situation at home.
Clearly, I never want my kids’ health to provoke weeping by the pediatrician, but it’s comforting to know she might.
In many hospitals, the length of the white coat is related to the length of training. Medical students wear the shortest coats.
Good tip, right? I know I’ll remember it.
In many ways, doctors are held to an unrealistic standard. We are never, ever allowed to make a mistake. I don’t know anybody who can live that way.
–James Dillard, MD
We’re never going to reach the point where, after a botched surgery, a patient’s family or the patient himself says, “Oh, it’s okay. The doctor’s just human, after all.” Errors mean more in the medical field than almost anywhere else. Overhauling the system to reduce patient loads on doctors, though, does seem like it would at least minimize the chances for mistakes. But I’m no expert, and I’m not even what such a change would entail or if it’s even possible.
Chances don’t look great when you read this next quote:
Plan for a time when the bulk of your medical care will come from less committed doctors willing to work for much lower wages. Plan for a very impersonal and rushed visit during which the true nature of your problems will probably never be addressed and issues just under the surface will never be uncovered.
–Vance Harris, MD
That’s flat-out scary, considering how often asthma gets under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed in kids. Problems like asthma are already hard to find sometimes. What happens if diagnostic ability suffers?
The Really Horrifying
I was told in school to put a patient in a gown when he isn’t listening or cooperating. It casts him in a position of subservience.
I used to have my secretary page me after I had spent five minutes in the room with a difficult or overly chatty patient. Then I’d run out, saying, “Oh, I have an emergency.”
–Oncologist, Santa Cruz, California
An oncologist said this. Every job has its challenges, but should you really get into cancer treatment if you don’t want to see patients on an uneven keel? I’m lucky never to have needed an oncologist or even to have sat in on a visit for a family member, but I’m guessing I’d be a less than ideal patient, if by *difficult* this doctor means *completely freaked out and scared.* And overly chatty? Yeah, if I’m nervous I’ll go there, too.
I know that Reader’s Digest recommends bringing in a complete list of all your symptoms, but every time you do, it only reinforces my desire to quit this profession.
–Douglas Farrago, MD
So….what? We should bring in half the list? Pick our favorite two or three? Make you play charades to guess the rest?
At least a third of what doctors decide is fairly arbitrary.
–Heart surgeon, New York City
And that’s exactly why I’ll keep bringing in symptom lists, giving my own informed input, and advocating for my kid’s health.