In my last blog, I coined the term “The Rescue Patient.” While I am not always successful, this experience has given me the insight to make some useful recommendations to the rescue patient who is contemplating “coming in.” Keep in mind, most of my colleagues don’t embrace this challenge.
If you fit that description, I have five tips for you before you enter my office.
1. Win over the office staff. They are your first contact and they can be your allies or they can make it hard. Sorry, but this is the absolute truth. I love my staff and they treat our patients great, but their loyalty is to me and they protect me and the practice.
2. Do not alienate the doc immediately. Much like a rescue dog, if you lash out and bite me I will probably not take you home. I can understand, as a result of your bad experience, how you feel I might be the enemy. However, if you do want me to “take you home” and help you, you will have to bite your tongue and in some way effectively and concisely tell your story. But first, you would do well to briefly explain that you have had a bad experience and would really appreciate my help. Go ahead, suck up your pride and feed my enormous ego by buttering me up a bit.
3. Dial down the emotion. Please, please do not go on and on about how terribly bad your problem is for you. Your problem is what I do everyday and in a few seconds I will pretty much know your general level of suffering. STAY OBJECTIVE! Convincing me of the severity of your problem and how bad it affects you does not help me help you. I am definitely less concerned with the past and mostly focused on the future.
I have determined two reasons for your über convincing, perseverating behavior. First, someone is not listening to you; they don’t understand the magnitude of what you are going through and you need someone to know. Maybe it is your spouse, maybe it is your best friend, likely your last doctor, whoever. You need to be validated and this is your shot.
Second, you think this pleading behavior will somehow help me see the problem more clearly and I will somehow listen more than the last doc. What most of us will do is tune you out. Sorry, but this is the absolute truth, like it or not…
4. You may be the problem. You think I need to know all your information and your acquired knowledge on your problem. “Doctor, did you read all the records, and did you see the MRI report?” you say. Or, “This is what I think is going on with my ankle…” Seriously, your opinion is not helpful.
Furthermore you feel it is essential that I know everything the last doctor (or four) has told you. Sorry, but if they had any valuable information or opinions you would not be sitting before me, you would be fixed. Allow me to start from the beginning and discover the evidence from you, piece by piece. The more you try to micromanage me, the more you shoot yourself in the foot.
If the concept that you might be part of the problem upsets you, then you are the problem.
Along these same lines, if your rescue doc is mostly interested in the opinion of previous docs and all the records, etc., of your past medical experience, move on! Your doc should be talking to you and discovering the story from you directly and forming opinions from the eye witness, you, firsthand.
I personally do not want to see any previous reports or tests or hear any opinions, at least right away. When the right time comes I will call them up like pulling up a lefty from the bullpen. Let me decide what is pertinent and what is not. Allow me to do my job.
5. For god’s sake, give me some time. I understand you are in a hurry. No doubt you have been dealing with this for a long time, months, maybe years. You come to me in the eleventh hour, and understandably you want your problem to be gone, now! However, I must have time to first accurately diagnose whatever it is, and then, and only then can I actually help you.
Now here is to all you rescue patients. Go boldly and get the help you need and deserve!