Understanding & Improving the Patient-Doctor Relationship

Though your doctor is the last person you should think of on Valentine’s Day, the patient-doctor relationship is one of your most important. Your health depends on it.

Ideally, it’s a relationship of mutual positive regard. You feel comfortable telling your doctor anything and everything, and you trust your doctor to give you the best care.

In turn, your doctor knows all about you, trusts you, guides you through the health care system and supports you through the highs and lows of life.

But like every other relationship, it is rarely perfect. We can have communication problems – not surprising when we are speaking two different languages: Medspeak and normal English.

Misunderstandings are common. Even when the doctor writes instructions down, they can be hard to read. You might not feel bold enough to disagree with your doctor or admit that you won’t be able to follow through with the plan. Then you may feel embarrassed to come back not having adhered to it.

If communication has been particularly bad, you may harbor negative feelings towards your doctor and perhaps all doctors. Some people never see doctors for just this reason. Of course, uncomfortable physical examinations are another.

What has been your experience with physicians? What did you like? What did you hate?

Next: How we miscommunicate.


About Davidicus Wong

I am a family physician. I write a weekly newspaper column, Healthwise for the Vancouver Courier, Burnaby Now, Royal City Record and Richmond News.
This entry was posted in Happiness, Healthy Living, patient-doctor relationship, Positive Change, Positive Potential, Relationships and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Understanding & Improving the Patient-Doctor Relationship

  1. mysterycoach says:

    I’ve hated the feeling of being dismissed. I would ask a question and they wouldn’t give me a response or they’d feel they were done, which I understood however their waiting room was not my problem. I remember a couple such physicians brushing me off and one fella we got into an argument. I was trying to explain my history to him and he was dead set on only looking at ONE allergy vs. the many I really do have. I restarted that particular conversation like three times. Finally I gave up and never saw him again.

    My other issue has been from time to time is when I ask a question, and not in any manner which is accusatory or degrading to their area of expertise, I’m met with resistance… defensiveness and I have to again, start over and restate my question while I advise them that I”m not questioning their expertise, I’m trying to educate myself. Then we can proceed and usually do.

    One guy when my daughter was small (about her spine) says to me, “Oh bring her back next week for a check up”. I’m sorry, you idiot… like an indent in her spine was going to like, what? fill in within one week? I assure you… we left with a prescription for an x-ray.

    Oh … and then (you asked right ? LOL) We did go to the x-ray place, my daughter was approx 5/6 years old, we get in the x-ray room with that BIG machine (soooo skeery to her) and she wouldn’t get on the table. Due to a very busy waiting room the woman waiting for me to convince my daughter to lie on it (by lying on it myself and rolling around showing her it was safe, which was maybe 5/10 minutes) She says to me… If you can’t get her to lie down, we will have to have people come in here and hold her down. Seriously? Seriously… I went up to the window, eye level, direct and I advised her in no uncertain terms that her schedule was not my problem and that I was not going to traumatize my child in this manner. Mind you, my daughter is not a tantrum thrower, she was afriad…

    So after ALL this… it’s the lack of human contact, the defensiveness, the half ears, the presumptuous behaviors and poor bed side manner I’ve seen over the years. I think doctor’s are people to, I have respect for them what I do not have respect for is any type of … hmmm… you ever watch the movie Patch Adams? He wanted doctors to treat PEOPLE not diseases.

    Aside from the ranting above, I have met very good doctors who I would recommend to anyone in a heart beat. I guess… in closing, I’m not cattle and I don’t want to feel like it either. 🙂

    LOL 🙂 You asked… Have a VERY Happy Valentines Day with your family Dave!

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