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Many patients complain that their doctor doesn’t understand their problem, doesn’t take them seriously or simply doesn’t listen. We hear this most from patients with chronic and unresolved problems such as pelvic pain from endometriosis or uterine fibroids. The good news is that there are communication strategies that you can use to have your doctor listen, be better understood and have your problems addressed.

Immediately engage with the doctor

Tell everything important up front.  Don’t wait until the doctor takes your history, does your exam and then proposes a plan for you to mention that you saw another doctor who did such and such procedure a year ago and that you saw another 2 weeks ago one who started you on this medication.  Doing this does not give all the information to the doctor that is needed to best help you.  Put everything on the table up front.  It’s easy to forget things, so write them down in advance.  That way you’ll be sure to cover all your points.  Just don’t be the patient who gives piecemeal information just to see what the doctor is going to say.  This is not in your best interest.

Stay on Point

When going into the background and elaborating on your problem, it is easy to get sidetracked. Please avoid getting sidetracked into talking about things that are unrelated to your care such as problems at home or work.  It’s tempting to take this time to vent, but this appointment is about your current medical problems, not about how your boss is a jerk. So try to stay on point as this is your appointment and time.  Once your medical problems are addressed, then there is time to chit chat and socialize if you have that kind of relationship with your doctor.

Answer the question, then elaborate

The doctor wants you to elaborate on answers, but there is a way to do it that will be most meaningful. Answer the question as concisely as possible first, then elaborate.

Example: Where does it hurt?

Bad answer: Well it started about a year ago when I thought I had a muscle strain.  I went to Urgent Care and they gave me a muscle relaxant.  Then I had a sonogram with my family doctor who diagnosed a cyst. (Notice that the patient has yet to answer the question)

Good answer: It hurts right here on my lower left side.  It started a year ago etc, etc…

Don't mistakenly give misleading information

Answer the question, but give context so the doctor understands.

Example: What do you take for pain?

Answer: Nothing.

What the doctor just heard was that your pain is not bad enough to take pain medication. The reality is that you have tried ibuprofen, naproxen and even codeine which did not help.  So you no longer try taking anything.  This answer is much more meaningful than just “nothing”.

Put everything upfront. Don't add things at the end.

Tell everything important up front.  Don’t wait until the doctor takes your history, does your exam and then proposes a plan for you to mention that you saw another doctor who did such and such procedure a year ago and that you saw another 2 weeks ago one who started you on this medication.  Doing this does not give all the information to the doctor that is needed to best help you.  Put everything on the table up front.  It’s easy to forget things, so write them down in advance.  That way you’ll be sure to cover all your points.  Just don’t be the patient who gives piecemeal information just to see what the doctor is going to say.  This is not in your best interest.

Be on time

As previously mentioned, going to a doctor’s appointment is frequently a waiting game. The main thing that makes us run behind in my office is patients arriving late.  And if she is 10 minutes late, it pushes everyone back.  And the next patient that is late pushes everyone back further. And it may be out of your control such as weather, traffic, etc.

Advice: If you are going to be so much as 1 minute late, call as soon as you know.  It will be appreciated; you will be respected, and everyone will be more willing to accommodate you with the forewarning.  However, if asked to reschedule, please accept that as the office making an effort to respect the other patient’s time.

Signature Gyn Services Women's Health Clinical Trials Research Studies Fort Worth Texas

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