(The things not to do “rules” came from this website. I thought I would run through the most common ones here and offer my thoughts since I work in a doctor’s office).
1. Do not be a passive listener
This means, don’t just simply sit there and nod like a robot. We can tell by your glassy-eyed expression you’re overwhelmed and don’t really understand what we’re saying. This is why I always tell patients that we encourage an “extra pair of eyes and ears” at your appointment because you’re the patient, you’re hurting and stressed out – what is the doctor going to do to me? Having someone there with you will help you retain more of what is being said. That person can write things down and/or will have additional questions that you, Ms. Patient, didn’t think of when you were in the office.
This is your body, your procedure. The more you know, the more you will be able to prepare for whatever is advised. We don’t have it happen very often, but we do have patients that will call us, RIGHT AFTER THEIR APPOINTMENT, and ask, “I’m not sure I understood what the doctor wanted me to do.” It’s very frustrating for the doctor, and the staff and once in a while, it requires another appointment so that the doctor can go over his recommendations – AGAIN. Bring someone with you. Bring your questions with you. Pay attention. Ask questions! And if you have a doctor that doesn’t want to answer your questions, find another doctor. Yes. I’m serious. You should feel comfortable with your doctor and if your personalities are not meshing and/or you are unhappy with your care, request another doctor in the practice or go somewhere else. Again, this doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen.
2. Do not self-diagnose yourself and then try and tell the doctor what to do
Welllll …. yes and no. Let me explain.
You want to take an active interest in your health/body, so researching things on the Internet is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it IS a rabbit hole. There are so many symptoms that can mean so many different things and before long, you’re convinced your dying and completely freaked out. So if you’re going to jump down that rabbit hole, take everything you read with a grain of salt – it’s informative but it doesn’t necessarily mean it applies to YOU.
If you want to tell your doctor that you did a little digging and think this condition might apply to you, by all means, let your doctor know. He/she will give you his/her opinion on that theory but ultimately, you can’t compete with years of education and experience when it comes to a final diagnosis. And if you’re wanting a specific outcome, a certain test, or some medication, again, talk it out with your doctor and again he/she will offer an opinion on that request.
NEVER demand something specific to be done because I’m telling you right now, doctors will not respond in a positive way and you don’t want to risk hurting your relationship with your doctor because “you think it’s best.”
But, at the same time, you DO know your own body. You know what’s normal for you and what is not. So that should be taken into consideration. Just don’t act like you know more than your doctor or the visit will be awkward and unproductive.
3. Do not lie!
I always tell people, this is a no-judgement zone. You have to be honest with your doctor and his staff, otherwise, your doctor won’t have all of the information that he/she needs to diagnose you. Trust me when I say:
- We’ve pretty much heard it all and
- We don’t care if it’s weird or embarrassing. No really. We don’t.
4. Do not leave things out
Don’t neglect to tell your doctor something because you think it’s not important nor relevant to the situation – let your doctor be the judge of that.
At the same time – he doesn’t need to know what happened to you in 1970 – unless it has something specific to do with why you’re there to see him/her.
Oh – and if you’re seeing a specialist, say, a neurosurgeon, who specializes in the brain and spine, do not waste his/her time complaining about an issue he/she doesn’t address. For example, don’t think you can just kill two birds with one stone and use your specialist as a one stop shop – if you have issues outside of the brain and spine, then speak to your family doctor – that’s what he/she does. Family doctors address the general complaints and then refer you to the specialist that can help you with a specific problem. Think of a family doctor as an air traffic controller – they will direct you to the correct doctor after assessing the problem.
5. Do NOT be late!
Doctors’ offices have a late policy – some will cancel your appointment if you’re five minutes late, some will give you 15 minutes to show up and then cancel your appointment. This policy does not exist to piss you off but to keep schedules on track. It’s not fair to make someone who showed up for his/her appointment on time to wait any longer because you couldn’t get your butt to your appointment. If you’re going to be late, then call the office and/or reschedule the appointment.
It’s rude. You have an appointment, arrive when you’re supposed to. And secondly, when you’re late, then it makes patients scheduled after you late, too. And then the whole day is thrown off balance and every one is cranky.
And if you know you can’t make the appointment, please call the office no later than the day before your appointment and let the staff know so they can give your spot to someone on the cancellation list. And yes, we use the cancellation list! It’s just courtesy.
And speaking of wait times – nothing annoys me more when people get pissy about wait times. Look. I get it. Your time is valuable, too. And if it’s going to be a long wait, by all means, reschedule the appointment. But you can not expect to be shown back to your room at EXACTLY the time of your appointment. Most of the time, doctors are behind because they’ve had complicated cases that require more explanation and/or patients are super chatty and have a lot of questions, (which is fine, but it does take time), and/or patients spend a stupid amount of time going over history that your doctor doesn’t care about thereby wasting valuable time. People are complicated. Every case is different and comes with it’s own set of challenges. When you have to wait, there is usually a pretty good reason why – I can promise you, the doctors are not making you wait because it amuses them. They are spending time with their patients and when it’s your turn, they will spend time with you as well. Be patient.
And for the love of God, bring something to do – a book, play a game on your phone, etc. It makes time go by faster.
6. Do NOT be a jerk to the office staff
One – it’s rude – don’t be rude. I can tell you if you’re rude, then the staff has ZERO motivation to help you, let alone go above and beyond.
Two – I can PROMISE you, the doctor will hear about it and if it’s bad enough, or happens often enough, the doctor will fire you as a patient. And yes, the doctor can 100% do that. Doctor’s practices are their own, they have the right to decline to see patients – just because they are doctors does not obligate them to see you.
Doctors are very loyal to their staff. We are a work family – we see each other more than we see our families. And if you’re rude to the staff but nice to the doctor, he will hear about it and if it’s bad enough, he will refuse to treat you.
Yes people, they can and they will. Be a decent human being. It’s fine to be frustrated, we expect that – it’s hard to be nice when you’re hurting. But we know the difference between hurting and just being an asshole.
Don’t be an asshole.
7. Do not show up with stinky body odor – take a shower
I wish I didn’t have to mention this one, but yes, this happens A LOT.
You think doctors want to smell your unwashed body when they examine you? I can tell you, it doesn’t give them a good impression of you. If you can’t be bothered to take a shower and do the bare minimum to take care of your body, how do you expect to convince us you’re going to take care of yourself after surgery?
Not to mention, it makes them want to rush through the exam, or even the consultation, because they can’t stand the smell of you. Take a damn shower.
And for me? I have to go in and not only sanitize the room afterward, (which I do after each patient anyway), but I have to spray the room down with Lysol because the smell lingers.
Not a good impression, folks.
8. Do NOT tell us the medication you’re taking is “a little yellow pill”
Guys. It ASTOUNDS me the number of patients that have NO idea what medications they’re taking. Some don’t know the names, some don’t know why they’re taking a specific medication – sometimes both! You’re putting this substance in your body – its kind of important that you KNOW what it is!!
You should always have a list of medications on your person at all times. You never know when someone needs to know this information, for example: an EMS person may need to see that list when they take you to the hospital via ambulance. It’s very important that you give your doctor, and his staff, what medications you’re taking. This is especially vital when other medications are prescribed as your doctor doesn’t want to prescribe something that could have a potential interaction with a medication you’re already taking.
Take a medication list, or better yet, take the bottles with you to your appointment – especially if you’re seeing a new doctor. Do not rely on your memory and I can promise you, trying to pronounce medications, or spell medications, is a nightmare because there are a lot of medications that sound, and are spelled, very similar. Medications are not a guessing game.
9. Do not bring people to the appointment who monopolize the conversation
Again, it’s encouraged to bring an extra person with you to your appointments. However, that person should not be the one to supply all of the patient’s answer, unless, of course, the patient is not able to verbalize his/her own answers or is a minor.
But. When the person giving the information is not the patient, it’s suspect. Is the patient really feeling this way or is the person supplying the answers just tired of the patient complaining. I’ve never had to ask someone to step out of the room because he/she wouldn’t shut up, but I’ve gotten really close. When a situation like this happens, I will purposefully ignore the person talking and focus all of my attention on the patient often waiting for the patient to answer the question even though the person with the patient already answered it. I’ve pissed some people off with this tactic but ultimately the hint will be taken and the patient will start answering questions.
This happens a lot with married couples. The wife will do all the talking and the husband, who is the patient, will just allow her to answer for him. Or, there are times when the wife tries to answer for the patient and the husband will turn to her and bite her head off.
It’s a bit satisfying, not gonna lie.
I know support people think they’re being helpful when they talk for the patient, but I can assure you, they are not. Allow the patient to tell us what is wrong. The appointment is about them, not about you.
10. Do not be a no-show
Not showing up for your appointment is extremely rude. This tells the doctor that the patient doesn’t respect his time. And when you don’t show up for an appointment, again, it throws the schedule off because now we have a doctor twiddling his thumbs. Which is NEVER a good thing.
And I will tell you, if you no-show three appointments, doctors WILL fire you. No-showing appointments takes time away from patients who are desperate to get in and it’s a colossal waste of everyone’s time.
Don’t do it.
That wraps up part one! There is still so much to say, so, part two is coming soon!
Thanks for reading.