Monday, 27 February 2012

How Patients Annoy Their Doctors and How You Can Avoid Doing the Same

AppId is over the quota
AppId is over the quota

Did you ever get the feeling that your doctor is annoyed by your behavior? Well it turns out that there are many things that patients frequently do that can make a doctor's temperature rise.

Not Knowing Current list of Meds

Patients often make the mistake of assuming that their doctor knows their current full list of medications. Of course, a primary doctor may very well have a record scattered in the chart but often times, they do not have immediate access to a detailed, up-to-date list. In addition if you have seen another doctor and they have prescribed medications, then your current doctor may be unaware of the addition. And what if you are in the emergency room or seeing a specialist completely unfamiliar with you?

Too often patients may say they are taking "a small blue pill" or half of "a white pill" or have no idea of the dose. Or perhaps they dig deep into their pocket and produce a baggie of pills while announcing, "Here they are!" Many patients struggle to recall medications and doses and after feeling overwhelmed, eventually succumb to taking their meds without a clear idea of what they are treating.

Prescription: It is no wonder that patients are easily confused by their medication list. According to a Medicare study several years ago, a typical senior fills 28.5 prescriptions including refills per year on average. Although reports vary, seniors regularly take between 5 and 7 medications daily not including those with more complicated health issues.

Always keep your own detailed record of all medications, daily doses and drug allergies. In addition, be sure to chart when you started taking the med, for what reason as well as the prescribing doctor. Also include a list of vitamins and supplements as these may also affect medications. Sometimes patients fail to mention non-prescription supplements because they feel these aren't important or that their doctor would disapprove. However, this can be extremely dangerous as many medications and supplements can negatively interact with each other, negate the others effects or even pose life-threatening problems.
Don't waste valuable time with your doctor trying to decipher your medication baggie. If you are unsure which meds you are taking, your doctor may be unsure which are effective or ineffective.

Kitchen Sink of Complaints

You have made an appointment to see your doctor for mild shortness of breath that you have been experiencing. But while patiently waiting for your doctor to walk in the room suddenly you remember that your foot was also hurting you. Then you recall noticing some hair loss while in the shower. Oh and wait, your lower back hurts sometimes when you are performing your daily exercise.

Perhaps due to the rising cost of healthcare, co-pays or lack of personal time to see their doctor, many patients have become hoarders: hoarders of symptoms. Each time a new symptom is experienced, it is placed on a mental medical list as something to mention to the doctor. So by the time the doctor asks, "So what brings you in?" a kitchen sink of complaints is presented.

Prescription: You don't want to purposely leave out symptoms because perhaps unbeknownst to you, they may be related to your primary issue and give your doctor a clearer understanding of your medical picture. For instance, sometimes when patients have gallbladder issues they often have referred shoulder pain. Although they may not seem obviously related, this may actually help make a more definitive diagnosis. What you should avoid however, is expecting each and every symptom to be fully evaluated and treated. Evaluation of shortness of breath or chest pain outweighs foot pain.

So, although you should mention all your complaints to your doctor, sometimes you may have to be selective. In the time allotted, your doctor will generally be unable to work up a long laundry list of complaints and will often refer you to make another appointment to address some of the other symptoms if they are less urgent.

Medication Non-compliance

You have been seen by your doctor, had a full physical exam, discussed treatment options, been given a prescription and leave the office. Yet instead of going to the pharmacy to get the prescription filled, you go home because you don't think you need more medication. The days, weeks and months go by, you experience the same or worsening symptoms and make another appointment with your doctor. When asked if you are taking your meds as prescribed, you state that you never filled the prescription. Or perhaps you did fill but decided along the way you didn't feel like taking anymore.

Prescription: Patients that are blatantly non-compliant are very frustrating to doctors. Doctors have their patient's best interest in mind yet, patients should never feel ambushed and pressured into a treatment or medication that they do not understand or are uncomfortable taking. However, avoid misleading your doctor into thinking you are onboard with a treatment plan by quietly accepting the prescription and nodding in agreement.

Honest communication is vital to ensure a good medical outcome. You should feel comfortable stating to your doctor that you are wary and perhaps would like to try another option. If you leave without the intention to fill your prescription, you are doing a disservice to your health as well as damaging your relationship with your doctor.

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