The article “Doctor-patient partnership a worthy goal” (June 6 Eagle) reported how when making important decisions about their health needs, many patients feel “limited, almost trapped into certain ways of speaking with their doctors.” Some patients worry about upsetting or angering their doctors and believe they can only depend on themselves for getting more information about their treatment or disease. Patients feel they cannot speak openly to their doctors.
The article angered me. It’s upsetting because this is not how I was trained as a physician.
At times I hear similar complaints from my patients about the previous care they received – that they seemed rushed out of the office before they could get all their questions answered. What a shame.
The doctor-patient partnership is utmost to provide good care. Doctors must listen to the patient. We must answer their questions; if we can’t do it on the spot, then we need to research it and get back to them. I think we don’t get on the phone enough to talk with our patients if there are follow-up issues.
Probably the most important questions doctors can ask their patients are: What can I help you with to make sure you understand your health care or your medication needs? Is there anything that you feel you cannot do, and why?
If the patients do not understand what we are trying to do for them, then we as their physicians have failed.
Patients should come prepared to ask their doctors for answers. Write your questions ahead of time. Always bring a list of your current medications and know what medicines make you sick. And if you are confused about your health needs, tell your doctor about your confusion and what you need to make it easier for you to take care of yourself.
THOM F. ROSENBERG