Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Doctor-Patient Relationship

Doctor appointments are more enjoyable and helpful, especially if you have had a good relationship with your doctor over the years. But, even a good doctor-patient relationship can turn dysfunctional over time. Doctors may have the best of intentions, but their model of practice may no longer fit what you need.
Doctor-Patient Relationship

In any given year about 10% to 15% of patients at least consider switching doctors. In one two-year study, 15 percent of patients moved to different practices because of dissatisfaction with the care they were receiving.

One reason may simply be that patients today have come to expect a higher level of care. Patients tend to be armed with more information about health care, either through news stories or after having researched their condition over the Internet. These more-savvy health care consumers also want doctors whose treatment philosophies are more in tune with their own lifestyles and choices.

More often than not, the reason for patient dissatisfaction comes down to poor communication. Patients don't really know how to evaluate medical skills, but they do know if a doctor interrupts them when they're listing their concerns.

Too much talking, too little listening
Patient-doctor communication can be further hampered by age. Doctors tend to be more egalitarian with younger patients, sharing the decision making with the patient. Plus, many doctors may focus only on physical symptoms, without addressing psychological or social concerns, like whether the patient has the transportation to get to a medical test.

Substandard communication isn't just annoying, though. It also has serious implications for your health. Research shows very clearly that when patients are actively involved in their decision making, and their opinions and perspectives are incorporated into a health care plan, there are much better outcomes.

Despite all this, even patients who are less than pleased with their doctors may be hesitant to leave them. First, there are logistical challenges, such as transferring a long medical history or finding a conveniently located doctor who is covered by the patient's health plan. 
And boomers monitoring the health of their aging parents should know that Americans over 70 often resist changing doctors, mostly because they were raised with a profound respect for authority and don't want to offend.

If you do decide to find a new doctor, try to leave on the best possible terms, because your new doctor may need to consult your old one. Consider sending the old doctor a letter describing the specific reasons you decided to change. It may be hard to write — and also hard to hear as a doctor, but we all learn things from what we've done wrong.

10 Warning Signs That You May Need a New Doctor

So how do you know if your doctor isn't "the one"?

Your gut is often your best guide, experts say. But here are a few warning signs that you might need to give your doctor the boot.

Be wary of a doctor who:

1. Dismisses every complaint, blaming age or your sex.

2. Dismisses the importance of nutrition and other lifestyle changes.

3. Insists that nothing can be done. There is always something to try.

4. Spends too little time with you.

5. Scoffs at your research all the time.

6. Interrupts you frequently, especially if you're a patient with complex, multiple issues.

7. Writes a prescription with minimum discussion.

8. Recommends treatments without considering your lifestyle.

9. Has you taking multiple medications with no improvement in your health.

10. Keeps referring you to more specialists without any improvement.