Dancing With The Doctors

A great family physician blogger who I sometimes read is Jill of All Trades, MD.  If you’re not already following her, check out the post:  Dancing With the Doctors: Learn 5 Steps to Tango Effortlessly at Your Doctor’s Office.  It’s a fun, well-written post.

One step she mentions is an aspect of obtaining medical care that drives me crazy:

Tell the nurse who takes your vital signs and places you in the exam room exactly what you are there for.

When I make the appointment, I have to tell the scheduler why I need an appointment.  I can’t just ask for an appointment; they want the story.  Then when the nurse shows me back to the exam room, I have to repeat that story for the nurse.  Later the doctor comes in and wants me to repeat it again.

And I think, what was the nurse writing if she didn’t write down why I’m here?  or why are you asking me something that’s already written in my chart? 

My solution – and I honestly don’t know if my doctor likes it or hates it, but it works for me – is that I now type up my answer to the question “why are you here?” before I go see my doctor.  I try to keep it short, but include details like how long it’s gone on, what I’ve tried as home treatments, if anything makes it better or worse… 

When the nurse shows me into the exam room, I hand her my short write-up (half-sheet, max).  She documents whatever she wants in the chart, but usually just slides my little paper under the clip so the doctor can read it.  When my son hurt his arm, I included a photo so that the height from which he fell was clear.  I feel that I’m able to give clearer information in less time this way, because I’m less likely to forget details that might be omitted in a verbal narrative.  I don’t get half-way home and say, “I forgot to tell him…”

Do you have little things you do to make your appointments go more smoothly?



9 thoughts on “Dancing With The Doctors

  1. What a great idea! Of course, I will never be this together and organized. I’d get the note all written and printed out, then I’d take off and leave it laying on the counter at home.

  2. Good post, Warmsocks. It fit perfectly with our theme of protecting patients and doctors to enable a better relationship tonite on Blog Talk Radio, Dr Synonymous Episode 3. I read about 1/2 of it into the show and commented about how we doctors can learn a lot from your blog. Thanks for your insights.

  3. I also find that a write up helps a great deal not only so that you don’t have to repeat yourself, but also to make sure that the doctor gets your story straight. (I found various mistakes in doctors’ notes I obtained after the fact.) The competent doctors I see now always thank me for the write up because it helps them as well.

    What I still don’t get is why doctors insist on the patient stating only one or two symptoms or problems as some say. You can have four or five symptoms all due to the same problem and knowing this information it seems would make it helpful to make a correct diagnosis. Must I go back each week for a month plus to individually name each symptom. That seems silly, quite costly and I’m sure the doctors I know would find this behavior annoying.

  4. I do something similar – I take a list with issues / symptoms, current meds, and questions. It’s just to jog my memory but your posting made me think that it might be good to write it more legibly and just give it to the nurse.

  5. I would LOVE it if all my patients came in with a short write-up as such! And as for the one or two problems a visit, DoctorBlue, a way to get around that is to include all your symptoms on that “half-sheet” as well; that way the doctor can put the pieces of the puzzle together if indeed the symptoms are due to the same problem.

    Thx for reading and including my post on your blog, WarmSocks!


  6. When I’ve worked as an ER nurse, I’ve noticed this–the patient having to tell their story several times. And it annoys me when it is clear that a doctor has not taken the time to look at a nurse’s triage note. On the other hand, repeated tellings of the story sometimes bring out important details that do not emerge with the first telling. (Or inconsistencies–them too.) So, I would encourage medical professionals to read. the. chart. Saves time, and keeps from frustrating the patient.

  7. Yes! I hate repeating my story. I’m already so frustrated with my situation that it’s so annoying to repeat it a million times. I love your solution.

  8. Wren- :0 I’ve forgotten my write-up a couple times (never on the counter; I leave it sitting on my printer). Very frustrating. It works better if I prepare a day in advance and slip the paper into my notebook, then everything in the car the night before.

    Dr.Synonymous – Thank you for reading and commenting. I hadn’t even realized there was such a thing as blog radio. Patients can learn a lot from reading doctor’s blogs, too.

    doctorblue – Good to hear this works for someone else, too. Limiting number of things in each appointment – I’ve been thinking of writing about that as a whole separate post.

    Sherlock – Legibility is why I type my list. I used to have handwritten notes to myself on things I wanted to remember, and found my doctor trying to decipher my chicken-scratch (upside down, since I didn’t give him the list). Let me know if it works for you.

    Dr.Jill – It’s good to know that a written note wouldn’t be construed as annoying. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    SKCO – Read.the.chart. YES!!! One of my pet peeves is being asked if I’m taking any medications when I’ve already provided a typed list (and made sure everything is spelled correctly).

    Robin – Clarification is fine, but rehashing everything as if there’s been no communication among the different people providing care… ARGH!

  9. Pingback: Appointment Prep « ∞ itis

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