Going to the doctor can feel like just another thing to check off the list, but sometimes this can lead to missed opportunities. Have you ever left your doctor’s office thinking about that one questions you wish you would have asked? Have you ever had confusion or questions over something your doctor told you but didn’t get clarification? Even when your doctor asks if you have questions, your typical response is probably “no.”
Is this how the patient-doctor relationship should be? Why do doctors seemingly make patients not want to ask questions? While it is the primary responsibility of the physician to gather information from the patient about their medical condition, patients must still be willing to interact, engage, and ask questions of their own.
Being invested in your own medical care is important—especially when it comes to informing your doctor or specialists on your other medical conditions or symptoms. For example, say a doctor sets up hormone replacement for a female patient, however, they have a history of blood clots the physician doesn’t know about. In another case, a patient may experience serious complications after a surgery, but opts to “tough it out” rather than ask their doctor questions about these symptoms or complications in their follow-up appointments. While different in nature, both of these cases indicate the bigger issue of the broke patient-doctor relationship. Both could lead to potentially life-threatening conditions for these patients.
As a patient, if you believe some information would be important for your doctor to know or have questions about anything, it is crucial that you speak up. Even though the doctor should be the one asking most of the questions, patients must always be willing to voice their concerns and questions.
One issue that could be the source of tension is pain. When a person is in pain or uncomfortable, they aren’t interested in getting information, only resolution. Some patients may not want to have an intense Q&A session with their doctor during this time, they’d rather just hear about their treatment options.
Patients may begin to mentally relax and just let go while letting their doctor worry about solving their problems or taking care of them. More than that, many patients feel like their questions might seem silly or insignificant, doubting their understanding of medical information. With these preconceived notions about doctors and physicians, it can be difficult for patients to break through the barriers between patient and doctor relationships.
With an environment that isn’t conducive to critical thinking, many patients shut off instead of engaging in their own medical care. Instead of being more inquisitive, patients leave a doctor’s office without getting the answers or care they really need.
This is, of course, all just opinions. What do you think? If you are a patient or a physician, your feedback is much appreciated.