Bring your list of questions to the doc’s office–they have a list too!

Bring Your List to the Doctor's Office, They Have One Too

Interesting list of things doctors should do when seeing a patient.

Everyone hates waiting for the doctor.  This is cool information about how doctors want to stay on schedule too.  They want to handle their time effectively; knowing what they say to their patients profoundly affects this.

Dr. Michelle E. Lutton, who works with young docs in the Family Medicine Residency Program at Moses Cone Health System in Greensboro, North Carolina, outlines the steps that doctors should take to get the most out of an office visit.  If medical residents master the seven skills below, both physician and patient will get greater satisfaction from the limitations of the office visit.

1. Start with an agenda.  Your doctor should begin by asking you the reason for your visit, and he should continue to ask you, “Is there anything else?” until the two of you have established what needs to be addressed.  He might add some tests or lab work to the agenda.  Then you both review the agenda so that you know what can be covered now and what will be dealt with at a future visit, if one is necessary.

2. Use verbal cues.  Your doctor should let you know exactly what is going to happen at this visit first, second etc.  She might mention that a phlebotomist is going to draw your blood while she contacts the physician she is referring you to; she might mention getting medication samples while you dress, and that you both will discuss a medication schedule when she returns.  You don’t ever want to be left in the exam room wondering where your doctor went and what you are supposed to be doing and how the rest of the visit is going to go.  The concept is you and your doctor are always on the same page.

3. Address the patient’s emotions upfront.  Your doctor may be familiar with the

BATHE Technique.  It helps her to discover a patient’s emotional state sooner in the visit than later.  If a patient breaks down, the agenda could again be hi-jacked.  The word BATHE comes from the first word in the steps to the technique:

Background: “What’s going on in your life?”

Affect:           “How do you feel about it?”

Troubles:       “What troubles or concerns you most about it?”

Handling:      “How are you handling or coping with it?”

Empathy:       “That must be difficult for you.”

4. Address your own emotions.  Your doctor has feelings too and might experience guilt or inadequacy in dealing with your condition.  But compensating by extending the office visit with aimless talk is counterproductive.  He should know to focus on those issues he can deal with and to promise you help by contacting other medical sources.

5. Have a seat.  Your doctor should sit down with you at the end of the visit to summarize what the two of you have accomplished.

6. Be prepared for “Oh by the way.”  Your doctor knows this can happen.  Often it takes the atmosphere of conversation to give a patient courage to bring up a sensitive medical issue like mental health or sexual problems.

7. Be more specific.   Finally, your doctor should ask at the end of the visit, “Do you have any questions about what we discussed today?” instead of the broader question which could again delay the end of the visit, “Do you have any more questions or concerns?”

If all doctors incorporated these goals and if YOU came prepared with your list of symptoms and questions as well as a list of the meds and vitamins and herbals you are taking everyone would have a better chance of staying on schedule!

Read this article from Kevin MD for more information.