When you go to the doctor and try to explain what is wrong, do you feel like they actually listen to you? Or do they just rush in, listen for five seconds, make a rushed decision that you don’t actually trust, and then head on to the next appointment?
Doctors are incredibly busy. They have many appointments and may feel that they need to rush, especially if they have a gut instinct about what’s wrong.
The trouble, of course, is that this can lead to errors. What if your doctor just thinks you have a cough when it’s really an early sign of lung cancer? What if they’re not worried about your sudden weight loss, but you are? If they rush and miss a serious condition, it could be detrimental to your health. So how do you get them to listen?
Remember that they see it differently
In one study, 21% of patients thought doctors talked to them well enough, while 75% of doctors thought they did a good job communicating. Clearly, the two sides don’t always see it the same way. Remember this and be prepared to ask your doctor for a bit more time. They may not even realize you don’t think they’re listening.
Take notes before you go in
If there’s something you really want to make sure your doctor hears from you, write it down first. It’s common for them to ask if you have any questions, and a lot of people blank in the moment and regret it. This way, you can refer to your list and make sure you check off every important point.
Bring someone else to the appointment
Having another person can help hold the doctor accountable. You’re thinking about your condition, so you may be distracted, but they can watch to make sure the doctor listens and doesn’t rush off before you’re done. They may also be able to remember questions and key points that you forget. Tell them beforehand that you want to make sure communication is properly addressed.
These tactics can help you avoid medical mistakes, but they do still happen, and it’s important for you to know what steps you need to take.