Upon graduation from medical school each new doctor takes the Hippocratic oath in which s/he pledges to do ‘no harm’. These young doctors subsequently spend the rest of their career with their patient’s best interests at heart and with the intent of causing no harm.
There are many reasons why a patient chooses a particular doctor. S/he may be the best diagnostician in town. Or s/he may have the best bedside manner. Whatever the reason behind the why of the relationship, there is also the how-to.
Relationships are not always easy to maintain. There are egos, personalities, needs and expectations that come into play. When those differing parameters can be negotiated in a successful manner, the relationship can be a mutually satisfying one. When one or more of those parameters can’t be negotiated, the relationship can be impacted in a negative way… sometimes beyond repair. Even the relationship between the doctor and the patient.
If you find yourself becoming uncomfortable in the doctor-patient relationship that was once very satisfying, you need to do some retrospective thinking on what might have caused the change. Like any relationship, the relationship you have with your doctor is a two-way process. If you don’t perceive the process to be a postive one any more, ask yourself ‘why?’ What has changed? Why have things changed? Is it that the doctor has changed? Is it that you have you changed? Is it your imagination? Is it something you did or said? Or something you neglected to do or say? Is it the doctor’s fault? If you really like the doctor and feel that you want to continue the doctor-patient relationship, you must takes measures to fix it. How does one do that?
Being up front and honest is always a good way to begin. Ask the doctor if you have done or said anything offensive. If s/he answers in the affirmative, be sure to apologize for what you did or said. Follow up that verbal apology with a hand-written note of apology to the person or persons you have offended. Perhaps you can afford to hand deliver or send a plant or box of treats to the staff.
You always get more in life with “sugar” than you do with “salt “. Be aware that in order to have good interpersonal relationships with people, it is not always what you say, but how you say it that truly counts. If you put people on the defensive because of your behavior or your attitude, you will not experience a positive outcome. Everyone has feelings. The doctor and his staff are no exception.
If the doctor says that all is well, but you still have a sense that things have changed, ask the tough questions. If you are uncomfortable asking the questions, start off by being open and honest. The key is to be calm, warm, non-defensive and caring when you ask these questions. You’ve always liked the doctor. You want to continue the relationship. You need the doctor and the doctor needs you to maintain his professional practice.
“I sense that all is not well between us.” “While I find this very uncomfortable, I need to ask you if there is something I have done to make you not want to treat me anymore?” “Is there a reason why our relationship has changed?” “Would you rather me switch doctors and if so, why? ”
The bottom line is that you want to be able to count on your doctor to be passionate about your life or the life of your loved one. If you feel this is not the case, it is time to switch doctors.
” Doctor-Patient Relationship ” – 8:14 minutes
” Communicating With Your Doctor ” – 2:27 minutes