Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What Do I Tell My Doctor?

We received an interesting comment to another post on the MITSS Patient and Family Blog yesterday. This person asked such pertinent questions and brought up such rarely discussed issues that we thought we would repost it here.

Anonymous writes...

I really appreciate this blog.

My medical injury occurred almost 15 years ago, at a time when these issues simply were not acknowledged. Ever. I think it's only to our benefit that it's now being talked about.

If I could ask a question: What, if anything, should a patient tell subsequent physicians?

Medical injury has a way of casting a long shadow over future medical encounters, especially if it's handled badly. I became very avoidant after my injury. On my rare visits to the doctor, I'm usually tense and unhappy and on the verge of an anxiety meltdown. My current doctor doesn't know what happened to me and I think he's both puzzled and annoyed that the relationship isn't more productive. Weirdly enough, I actually really like him, but I don't know how much I should tell him. What if he doesn't get it? What if he trivializes it? What if he blames me for everything? What if he decides he doesn't want me as his patient anymore?

I know, I know; the distrust is talking here. But it's not that easy to switch it off. Also, telling the truth would entail saying some negative things about some of his colleagues, and I'm really uncomfortable going there. Does he have a right to know? Would it help provide safer care? Or would it be better not to burden him with all the baggage I've been carrying around?

I've never seen this addressed in any of my (admittedly obsessive) readings on the subject. So if you're ever looking for a future blog topic, maybe you could address it. Thank you for listening.

What do you think? The writer raises some very legitimate concerns. Does anyone have any suggestions or comments?


patientsafety said...

anonymous, your thoughtful concern needs to be shared with your physician; both for your sake and his/hers. If I were your physician, I would probably wonder each time you you left the office "what am I missing/why aren't we connecting/what am I doing wrong"? Not sharing is missing a great learning opportunity for both you and your physician. At some point in every patient-physician relationship, trust will become crucial to healing as well as merely nice. Much better to have the conversation now rather than at a point where time or circumstances make it impossible. Respectfully, eric knox

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,
As an RN and a patient, my suggestion would be to tell your doctor abput your prior injury. If the doctor blames you or does not want you as a patient any more, well then, I don't think you want this physician as your doctor any more. For a real functional relationship to exist between patient and healthcare provider, all the cards have to be out on the table. If you have underlying anxiety related to this event, that may actually be preventing you from seeing your physician and establishing a realtionship, then I would think you could only benefit from telling him/her about the event. If possible speak with your physician about this event during an appointment where you have scheduled adequate time for such a discussion. Best of luck in your efforts to keep moving forward.
Nancy Page, RN, Syracuse

Anonymous said...

Sounds so stressful - hoping you find someone you can connect with and really be open.

Anonymous said...

Wow, thank you for posting this and for the excellent feedback.

So what's the next step? How do I start the conversation? Are there any suggestions for good or effective openings to the dialogue?

What if I start crying? I don't want to make an idiot out of myself. :(

This is a scary place to go. :(

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