Physicians and Second Opinions

I like Susan. She is a good patient. She comes to the office well prepared. She can describe her symptoms well. She has a list of questions to which she expects answers. It saves me time. I wish all patients can be like Susan.

Her husband Dave is different. He likes his doctor to take responsibility for his care He likes his doctor to do all the worrying. His doctor is very obliging. Dave thinks all doctors should be like his doctor.

My brother is my accountant. I do not think he rates me very highly as a client. He is my big brother and I trust him. I let him do all the thinking for me to keep my finances healthy! He says, “My little brother, I wish you would be like my other clients who do their home work and come prepared with the right information and questions!”

This shows that patients, doctors, clients and other professionals come in all varieties.
To receive optimum service, we have to strike a right balance between expectancy and reality. The flow of good will has to be both ways.

“Doc, how can we get the most out of a visit to doctor’s office? Most doctors are overbooked, they are running late, in the middle of a physical the pager sets off, then the phone rings because another doctor is on the line, then it could be emergency department or labor quarters! Do you guys ever stop?”

Two common complaints we hear about doctors are: 1. They do not spend enough time with patients and hence do not listen to their complaints 2. They do not refer patients for a second opinion soon enough if they are unsure of diagnoses.

Recently, on CHAT 6&3 News series called MEDICAL MOMENT, I have been using a new slogan: “Help your doctor keep you healthy!” Is that possible? Let us examine this further.

The time factor. A doctor’s office is overbooked not because he loves to kill himself or that he hates his family; but he tries to accommodate as many patients as possible including last minute urgent appointments. So, he ends up seeing more patients than he had planned for. Then some patients take longer to be examined than others.

By the end of the day, the poor receptionist is expected to have done the job just right – keep everybody happy. I wonder how often she succeeds!

Getting a second opinion. A family physician, as primary care giver, is expected to know everything from brain tumors to ingrown toenails. Of course, this is not possible.

Depending on his experience and comfort level, he will get a second opinion if he is unsure of the diagnoses or if you are not happy with his findings or conclusions. He has to be careful that specialists or Alberta Health do not accuse him of crying wolf too often.

So, how can you help your doctor keep you healthy? Make sure he knows why you are there. Do your homework to save time. Ask him questions if you are not satisfied with his findings or conclusions.

For continuity of care, walk-in clinics and emergency departments are not good. Stick to one family doctor if you like him and trust him. Establish a good open honest dialogue. Try it! See how it works.

So, next time you step out of your doctor’s office, see if you can say: My doctor is the most wonderful human being on this earth!

(This series of articles explore the health problems of Dave and his family. They are composite characters of a typical family with health problems)

Start reading the preview of my book A Doctor's Journey for free on Amazon. Available on Kindle for $2.99!

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