Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Difficult patients - surely they aren't talking about me

Now, I know I am perfect and could never be annoying! Ha! We are all guilty of this from time to time. I know I was a cranky b*tch at a recent doctor visit, when I attempted to eat lunch after my appointment. I do feel guilt about this as well. There is no reason to be cranky (hence one of the reasons I should try to destress my life) but we all know even the calmest person can lose it once in a while. This is because we are normal human beings (I know, there is no such thing as normal but bear with me here).

Yesterday I read this article that is titled 'When Doctors Find Patients Difficult' (I am constantly amazed by the number of medical studies going on out there). Then I thought, 'surely they aren't talking about me!'. They do accurately point out that there are two sides to every discussion. On the patient's side, you go to the doctor for lots of reasons: a check up, because you are not feeling well, for a follow up to a surgery/procedure/test, etc. If your reason is stressful (which can be any of the above), you may be a bit tense and short tempered understandably. Your doctor attempts to be patient and reasonable and have a normal discussion. After the appointment, they go on to the next appointment where they go through the same thing again and again. Is this stressful? I think so.

So what if the doctor isn't having a good day? They are human beings as well - they could have a sleepless night, fight with spouse, a flat tire, whatever. Add to that numerous patients in a row that are cranky, and you get burn out, high blood pressure, crankiness and all sorts of normal human reactions over time.

In reading the article, one of their pet peeves is patients who ask to be prescribed an unnecessary medication. Who is the doctor here? Just because your friend takes something or you saw it advertised on TV, doesn't mean its right for you. Let the doctor make the decisions. I see no problem asking if there is something else they can give you that might help your situation but to demand a specific medication? No.

The article also discusses the fact that older doctors are better at handling the stress and burn out. Is handling a difficult patient an acquired skill? Possibly but that doesn't mean we should take advantage of or take out our frustrations on our younger doctors.

So let's all be nice together and let the doctors be doctors and the patients be patients and attempt to work out things without causing stress on either side.

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