What doctors want you to know about healthcare

To address a female physician as “Mrs.,” even if she is married, is to imply that despite all her professional accomplishments, her worth is reduced to her marital status. It ignores all the hard work that went into earning the title of “Doctor,” and denotes, whether intentional or not, that a female physician is somehow less deserving of the title than a male physician.”

Read KevinMD

If you want to know what doctors think, and more importantly, how they feel about their jobs, read KevinMD.

(This post has affiliate links.)

Founded by Dr. Kevin Pho in 2004, this blog features articles by thousands of doctors, representing multiple specialties, ages, genders, ethnicity and practice setting. They write on multiple topics related to health, the science, practice, business, and politics of medicine, the doctor-patient relationship, and anything else even remotely related to medicine and health care.

On KevinMD  you will not find detailed infographics, slick images, or cute printables.

You will find stories filled with raw emotion as physicians  candidly share the horrific struggles, the occasional remarkable successes, and the everyday grind  of providing healthcare to hurting, needy, sometimes demanding, occasionally grateful patients.

And you will hear from patients whose experiences with physicians and the healthcare system range from sublime to horrendous.

You may not like or agree with some of the things you read there-I often don’t and I’m a doctor myself.  That’s part of the point of this blog. We physicians are not homogeneous. We are individuals with different stories to tell from differing points of view, based on background, training,  and experience.

The blog is divided into sections based on broad categories of topics –

  • physician,
  • practice
  • policy,
  • finance
  • tech,
  • edu,
  • meds,
  • conditions.
  • patient
  • social

Some of the articles are directed to patients while others are physician oriented. I encourage you to read some of both, in addition to the ones I am sharing here.

Many of the physician authors write their own blogs, so it is a good place to explore and discover other health bloggers that you may enjoy.

How doctors feel about relationships with patients-

Dr. Jennifer Lycette , an oncologist who blogs at The Hopeful Cancer Doc, offered her take on a situation that I have encountered more than once myself.

Don’t call me “Mrs.” Call me “Doctor.”

“To address a female physician as “Mrs.,” even if she is married, is to imply that despite all her professional accomplishments, her worth is reduced to her marital status. It ignores all the hard work that went into earning the title of “Doctor,” and denotes, whether intentional or not, that a female physician is somehow less deserving of the title than a male physician.”

Dr. Oglesby nametag

How patients feel about communicating with doctors

Martine Ehrenclou is a patient advocate.

She is the author of Critical Conditions: The Essential Hospital Guide to Get Your Loved One Out Alive and The Take-Charge Patient.

She submitted an interesting piece on a controversial topic, that of patients recording their visits with doctors, either with or without permission.

“patients are in fact secretly recording conversations with their doctors without asking permission first.

Talk about a blow to the doctor-patient relationship.

I understand the hesitation to ask permission to record an office or hospital visit with a medical provider as I experienced it myself. But secretly recording is a violation of trust. Why would any patient surreptitiously tamper with the relationship with their doctor, something that is considered the cornerstone of quality care?’

Documenting information your doctor gives you is essential because it’s just too easy to misunderstand or forget the medical information conveyed. “

She offers these

Tips to remember what the doctor tells you.

How doctors think about treating illness

Dr. Eileen Sprys is a family physician who wants you to know

When you have a cold, why I’m not giving you an antibiotic

“I want you to know that as a physician, I feel a pang of insecurity, guilt, and sadness when a patient tells me they’re upset because I won’t write an antibiotic.  I don’t want you to be sick or miserable.

I understand how inconvenient and sometimes life altering a cold can be. I desperately, desperately wish that I had a cure for your cold, but none of us do.

I also want you to know that for every antibiotic I over-prescribe, that I run the unnecessary risk of making someone even more sick, even to the point of hospitalization or death. I went into medicine to help you and to relieve your suffering with integrity — and that by giving you antibiotics without indication, I am betraying my own purpose.”

six-facts-graphic

What doctors want you to know but don’t have time to tell you

a vision refractor
An ophthalmologist is a physician (doctor of medicine, MD, or doctor of osteopathy, DO) who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the eyes and visual system and in the prevention of eye disease and injury.

Dr. Brian C. Joondeph is an ophthalmologist and can be reached on Twitter @retinaldoctor. This article originally in the HealthZette reveals

8 things doctors secretly want to tell their patients

Number 8 is “I’m only human.”

 “We have our good days and bad days just like anyone else. We try to always have a smile on our faces, be upbeat and cheerful. But we, too, are affected by life’s challenges — work, family, finances, health, and so on. Don’t be too quick to judge and criticize!”

What doctors do away from their practice

KevinMD does have a few photos, and even some videos. I enjoyed this one by physician-comedian Brad Nieder, MD who blogs  at the The Healthy Humorist.

In this clip he explains how he learned to eat less.

sharing the HEART of health

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

Dr. Aletha 

What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear- a book review

What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear helps patients understand the complexity of what physicians do in our encounters with patients and how that impacts our subsequent decision making and treatment decisions.

What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear

by Danielle Ofri, M.D. , an associate professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine and staff physician at New York’s Bellevue Hospital .  The book is published by Beacon Press

“What patients say and what doctors hear can be two very dissimilar things. The reverse is also quite true: what doctors say and what patients hear can be radically different. ”

I am so convinced of the truth of these two statements, that I have written several blog posts about physician-patient communication. So when I learned of a book that delves into this subject in detail, I knew I needed to read it; I was not disappointed.

As a physician, this was not an easy book to read; Dr. Ofri does not hesitate to tell us physicians what we need to do better in our communication with our patients.

But she also makes it plain to patients that you have a role and a vested stake in communicating your concerns, questions, and even grievances to the physicians who care for you; that without such information, your physicians cannot provide optimal diagnosis and treatment for you.

doctor talking to a woman
photo compliments American Academy of Family Physicians

Dr. Ofri bases her conclusions on her own encounters with patients over 20+ years of practice, interviews with other doctors and patients, and published research on communication. In her book she explains

  • How the uniqueness and complexity of the physician-patient relationship impacts their communication
  • Why patients’ less satisfactory encounters with the medical system are often due to poor communication, rather than lack of caring and competence, but can lead to lawsuits
  • Why patients’ unfamiliarity of medical terms can hinder communication , and how differences in use of words between doctors and patients, and even between doctors can lead to misunderstanding

For example, Dr. Ofri relates an incident when she was still a medical student working in the hospital and came across the term “expired” to refer to a patient who had died. She had never heard the word used this way. Then years later, when she was an attending physician, she was confused when an intern from a southern state reported to her that a patient had passed during the previous night. Passed what?, she thought. In some areas of our country,  “passed” is commonly used to mean someone has died, but Dr. Ofri had never heard this.

Dr. Ofri discusses the placebo effect of medicines and treatments, and how expectations affect response to treatment. (The placebo effect means responding to  a treatment that contains no active medical substance.  Interestingly, placebo treatments “work”.)

She details the many reasons patients have difficulty adhering to doctors’ recommended treatment plans, such as cost, inconvenience, distance, and other factors unrelated to not understanding the seriousness of their condition, as one might suppose.

I was intrigued by the story of a hospital in The Netherlands which hired a woman to be the “Chief Listening Officer.” Her only duty was to listen to patients talk about their complaints or grievances  about their care, not to fix or solve problems, but just to listen. And it was successful; once patients felt they had been heard, they had no desire to pursue legal action and felt more satisfied with their care.

She also relates a program called Sorry Works!, a way to handle medical errors with mediation rather than lawsuits, also a successful program.

Dr. Aletha talking to a mother and her son
Talking to a patient through an interpreter makes communication extra challenging. (photo from a volunteer medical trip to Ecuador)

 

 

What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear  helps  patients understand the complexity of what physicians do in our encounters with patients and how that impacts our subsequent decision making and treatment decisions.

This book illustrates there are multiple detailed steps between

  • A patient’s problem and the best solution
  • The patient’s and family’s questions and the correct answers
  • The final (or sometimes current) diagnosis and the definitive,  best available ,or least toxic treatment.

 “The biggest take-home message is that both doctors and patients need to give communication its just due. Rather than the utilitarian humdrum of a visit, the conversation should be viewed as the single most important tool of medical care..a highly sophisticated technology. “

 

 

 

 

In this previous blog post I offer suggestions on physician-patient communication based on my years in practice:

Do you know the best questions to ask about your healthcare?

You know it’s important to tell us details of your symptoms, medical history, family history, habits, and other medical facts.   But besides medical information about you , we need to know

Your expectations about your care,

Your concerns about your care,

Your obstacles to getting care,

 

sharing the HEART of health and communication

 

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

 

 

 

 

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