When you visit a doctor in a clinic or in the hospital, it’s not a social call.
It’s not unlike a meeting with each party bringing an agenda of items to discuss as well as individual expectations. The problems begin when the agendas don’t match; the doctor and the patient have different priorities and different expectations for the visit.
Now you’d think that your reason for seeing the doctor should be obvious and straightforward. When you bring a single simple problem – a sore throat, fresh laceration or sports injury, it’s easier for both you and the doctor to stay on the same page.
But your life and your health are more complicated than that; most patients bring in two or more medical concerns. Some may bring a list of six or more, and to make the visit even more unwieldy keep that list in their heads, bringing out one problem after another rather than sharing the entire list up front. It’s like getting into the express line at the grocery checkout then – like a magician – pulling out another dozen items from your pockets and sleeves.
Your doctor may also have an agenda that differs from yours. If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes, a conscientious doctor will want to review your most recent lab results, explain their significance and talk about how you can improve your health.
From the doctor’s point of view, all of this is in your best interests, but if the doctor fails to engage you in the discussion and you aren’t motivated to address these concerns, you won’t be sharing the doctor’s agenda.
Next: How doctors and patients can work better together.
Do you have some suggestions for how patients and doctors relate? Send your comments.