A pediatrician posted some useful advice to parents on KevinMD: 4 mistakes parents make in the pediatrician’s office
With office visit’s getting shorter, and co-pays getting costlier, it’s more important than ever to make sure each visit counts, and communication is efficient.
What struck me when reading her post was that these tips easily apply to patients of all ages, and any doctor in any specialty.
I encourage you to read the whole post, but in short her tips are:
1. Come prepared.
[W]e aren’t mind readers, and we have a limited amount of time. It’s frustrating when people don’t have the information I need, or to be heading out the door of the exam room when the parent remembers the three things they really want to talk about.
Keep a list of things you want to talk about. Bring a list of medications. If your child is sick, bring a list of the symptoms, such as temperature, and any medications you have already tried.
Same goes if you’re an adult. But remember most doctors (for adults) play by the one visit, one problem rule. Keep the discussion to your primary problem as much as possible to maximize your 15 minutes.
Related post: Annual exams vs. wellness visits
2. Be honest.
How often does your kid actually watch TV or play video games? Or eat vegetables? Or brush his/her teeth?
How much alcohol do you really drink? Do you smoke? How much do you really exercise (or not)?
We aren’t here to judge — and we have seen and heard worse, I promise. Please, tell the truth. I can’t take care of your child (or you) if you don’t.
And honestly, whatever you tell them, your doctor knows. The body doesn’t lie.
3. Say something when the doctor gets it wrong.
If I don’t make sense, if I didn’t ask something important, if I’ve misunderstood something, if I’ve given an instruction that is unworkable or if I’ve made someone feel upset or bad in any way, I want to know. Pediatricians are human and can screw up like anyone else.
Any doctor can screw up. Don’t be afraid to speak up. It’s your health (or your child’s) and your money.
4. Remember it’s all about teamwork.
This one kind of sums up the others, really. The visit and ongoing relationship with the pediatrician work best when parents and doctors understand that they need each other — and when they work together to make the most of the visit.
When my son was very young, he had a pediatrician who was highly recommended by colleagues, but honestly I found it very hard to work with him. He treated me in a very patronizing way whenever I challenged him about the necessity of an antibiotic prescription or an x-ray. I ended up finding a new pediatrician who was happy to listen to my concerns and work with me to keep my son healthy.
I’ve also felt “managed” by my primary care provider when she ordered labs or screening tests I didn’t think were necessary to my health goals.
Teamwork goes both ways. If you feel out of control of your own healthcare, refer to Tip #3!
Related post: “When Doctors Don’t Listen”
Be prepared. Be honest. Speak up. Be a team.