“Are you sexually active?”, the Doctor asked. “No”, the young woman replied firmly. After examining the patient and considering the symptoms, the doctor ordered a pregnancy test anyway and it came back positive. When the doctor returned to the exam room, he said, ” You said you are not sexually active but you are pregnant?” The woman smiled and said,
“Well, you asked about being sexual ly active. I just lie down and my husband does it!”.
As you can appreciate from this story, one can mislead the doctor even when there is no intent to do so.
Sometimes, unfortunately, due to a combination of modesty and other reasons patients do not give doctors complete information and/or accurate information.
When you visit with a doctor, give them as much information as possible. Your past illnesses should include acute and chronic illnesses, surgeries and mental illnesses.
I cannot count how often a patient had said they had no illnesses when it turned out they were on medicines for diabetes or hypertension or something else. Diseases under control are still diseases. And your tiredness may be the first sign that the Depression you were treated for 10 years ago may be coming back.
Then there are those who generalise. A patient once told me he was allergic to all the ” CIN antibiotics”. While that seemed smart, it was not very helpful. VIBRAMYCIN and CLINDAMYCIN are not related and allergy to one does not imply allergy to the other.
Be careful about using medical terminology unless you are sure. Do not say ” I have EPILEPSY” when you had a SEIZURE. They are not the same. Do not say you had Uterine cancer when you had a Fibroid.
Think carefully about who else you want to be there. While it makes sense to take someone else for support, sometimes, it is easier to be more candid when your best friend or even spouse is not there. A woman who disclosed to the doctor that she had an abortion in the presence of her new husband nearly had divorce when her man screamed “Ei, when was that? How come I never heard of this?”
Of course, the miscommunication is not always on the patient’s part. Sometimes, the doctor does not communicate clearly. Their language may be too technical or their explanations may not be clear. Whenever you are not clear with what the doctor says, let them know. There have been cases of medications meant to be taken by mouth being put into other orifices.
Finally, a lot of miscommunication stems from different expectations. Let the doctor know as early as possible why you are there. Are you worried about cancer because your best friend was just diagnosed? Tell him/her. The doctor is not a policeman or hostile lawyer trying to get you.
He/She is a professional trying to help you and sworn to protect your secrets. Have a great doctor/patient relationship.
God bless you.
Source: Dr Arthur Kobina Kennedy Facebook