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My HealthCare Provider Isn’t Listening

My HealthCare Provider Isn’t Listening

My HealthCare Provider Isn't Listening

Improving your health relies on your partnership with your medical provider, especially when you suffer from a chronic illness such as diabetes, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis among others. Your provider may be an advanced practice nurse practitioner, a family doctor or a specialist with all the initials after their names, but you know your body. When something isn’t right, it’s important for you to feel comfortable explaining all your symptoms to your provider. And it’s equally important to have a provider who listens.

Patient-doctor relationships rely on both parties to fully participate in the appointment. If you’re concerned your provider isn’t listening, try these steps to get your relationship back on track.

Write Down the Details

Many health problems have similar symptoms. Write down the dates and situations when your symptoms started, improved or worsened. Bring a list of medications you take regularly. Be willing to discuss the hard truths including any illicit drug use, the amount of alcohol you regularly consume, your mental health status, and sexual symptoms. Your provider needs the full picture to make an accurate diagnosis. If you’ve written down the details, you won’t have to rely on your own memory when you may feel rushed during an appointment.

Bring Someone with You

Illness, medication, and pain can cloud our thoughts and make it hard to remember what we wanted to say or what the doctor recommended. A trusted friend or family member can help you remember what the doctor said and ask questions you may not think to ask. They can also back you up if you don’t think the doctor is listening. It’s easier to advocate for someone else than ourselves.

Make Notes

You wrote down your symptoms and information prior to your appointment. Use that same notebook to write down what the doctor says. Most offices provide a print out of instructions, tests run and diagnoses after the appointment. It’s a great reference sheet. Make your own notes about what the doctor is saying to review later. They may help you create a list of questions for your next appointment.

Ask Questions

Sometimes medical providers use big words and acronyms that don’t make sense to the rest of us. If your provider suggests a specific test, discusses your test results or prescribes a new medication, ask for details. You may also ask how to spell any words you don’t understand. Even if the provider doesn’t explain what it means well you can do your own research after the appointment.

Do Your Research

Providers do get tired of patients who self diagnose with Dr. Google. If anyone searches through the symptom checker long enough they’ll find a chronic illness or cancer diagnosis waiting to happen. In truth, most of us don’t have these rare diseases and your search on Google can cause more alarm than is needed. Once you’ve been diagnosed though, arm yourself with information especially if you have a chronic condition. Stick to websites with varified information such as Mayo Clinic, CDC, or medical research schools. National organizations focused on your health condition may also provide up-to-date research information. You can also ask your provider where you can find more information on your condition.

Complete the Patient Survey

Most medical facilities, including ours, requests patients complete a satisfaction survey. If you’re uncomfortable confronting a provider whose bedside manner isn’t what you’d hoped it would be, you can ensure clinic management knows about the problem by completing the survey. (Another note, if your provider does an excellent job tell us about that too!)

Find An Alternative Provider

We offer this as a last resort. If your medical provider repeatedly brushes off your concerns or treats your symptoms without searching for a root cause, it might be time to search for another provider. We encourage our patients to develop a relationship with their provider, especially if they have chronic conditions. This ensures you work with a provider who understands your history. Changing providers isn’t something we take lightly, but it is an option you might want to explore if your provider isn’t giving the care you expect.

Everyone has a bad day. Sometimes a provider’s less than attentive visit has more to do with an emergency situation they may have recently managed than a lack of concern for your health. If you’ve had one bad experience with any provider, we encourage you to give them another chance before looking for care elsewhere. If you feel your current provider isn’t listening, we invite you to make an appointment with one of our providers. We strive to be your patient-centered medical home.

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