My Patient Said What?
There are days when I just don’t believe the nerve of some people. I have been a doctor for a long time. When I started practice, we were just at the end of the era where the doctor knew everything. Patients didn’t dare question what they were told. They took their medicine, did their exercises, and had their tests or whatever. They came back and told the doctor what happened and then did whatever they were told to do next.
Ah, those were the days.
Times have changed. Now patients often have learned something about their problems before they come to see the doctor. Our patients have access to the internet. They are taught about their bodies and body systems in school. Sometimes they didn’t get the whole message, but at least there’s a foundation to build on.
1. Unless you have a PhD in anatomy, don’t argue with me about where something is in your body. 99+% of the time you will be wrong.
2. Don’t tell me it “has to be” some kind of disease unless you have the lab work, x-ray or pathology report in your hand. I may very well disagree with the doctor you saw before. I may have different information.
3. I will usually disagree with Aunt Mable, Cousin Herbert or most of your relatives, unless they have an MD after their name and have examined you. Talking to you over the phone does not count.
4. Anyone that tells me that “you’re a doctor, you have to…..” will generally be shown the door. I have a medical license to maintain. I do what’s best for my patients. I have to follow the law and my best judgment. Period.
5. We spend a lot of time and money training and learning our craft. Four years of medical school after college. Then residency (three to eight years), subspecialty training for some, and continuing education all the time. Then we keep doing what we were trained to do. We do expect to make more than minimum wage.
6. Remember that what you pay at the front desk covers more than the doctor’s fee. You are paying the nurse, the receptionist, the cleaning lady, the lab person, the lawn guy, the tax man, the electricity, the computer, and on and on. Sometimes, depending on your insurance, there is no money left for the doctor. So don’t:
A. Stop payment on your check
B. Cash your insurance check and not pay the doctor
C. Forget to tell the office that your insurance was cancelled or changed
D. Refuse to pay your deductible or co-pay when you are in the office
E. Argue with the office about what the insurance paid
All of those things have happened to me. Sometimes the amounts were significant. They destroyed my relationships with those patients.
I’m not saying it’s time to return to the old days. But I think a little mutual respect is in order. Doctors are professionals. We provide our knowledge and our skill. We try to treat our patients with respect. We expect to be treated with respect in return. We also expect to be paid for our time and skill. You can “vote with your feet” about your care. If you are not happy, don’t come back. Consider, however that your doctor could have been right.