We have all had that feeling of disappointment when we leave the hospital because we didn’t ask a question or tell the consultant something, I have been there many many times and despite saying it wouldn’t happen again, it did.
An appointment to see a specialist is valuable, we don’t often get to see the consultant and when we do get into the consultation room we often then find out its a doctor we haven’t seen before. Of course that question then arises “so tell me what’s been going on” and many of us don’t have straight forward or short medical histories, but we hope that the fresh eyes on the notes will produce a cure or better result. We sometimes only get an appointment at an outpatient clinic a few times a year and by then the junior doctors have rotated to a different department and so continuity of care suffers.
However it is important that we get our questions answered, the doctor may not think so but for us it’s on the top of our list of priorities and it’s your right to be heard, consultants are powerful people, many can be intimidating and they are used to getting their own way, they are on a time limit in clinic and have most probably already done their ward rounds and have surgery still planned for later that day. So they need to review our case and tell us what the next step is and they want this to be quick so clinic doesn’t over run, so how do we get heard?
A few tips:
Make a list of questions that you want to ask.
Make a list of any new symptoms.
Don’t be afraid to stop ✋ the consultant if you don’t understand anything.
If you’re not 100% happy with the treatment or surgery being offered, say so because it’s your body.
Take someone with you who understands your health problems.
I have even marked in pen areas where the pain is worse, sounds silly but I sometimes forget all the places.
If you’re not happy with your consultant, say so. They won’t be offended and will refer you to a colleague.
Be polite always and never raise your voice.
Don’t be afraid to say you did a Google search and it has raised some questions or possible treatments you like the sound of.
Once I even wrote a letter to my consultant because I felt that I wasn’t being heard, this can be emailed and the email address can be obtained by phoning the hospital and asking to be put through to their secretary. I also took a copy of the letter along to my next appointment for reference. I’m sure the waiting room was full of sighs as my appointment over ran because I ended up spending an hour with the orthopaedic consultant that day. I don’t recommend routinely taking up their time like that, but this was a discussion about whether amputation was worth considering.
At one appointment to have silicone injected into my knee things weren’t going well, it was the third injection out of five and the others had been uncomfortable but bareable. However this time I was informed that my discomfort could be heard in the waiting room, the previous injections had been in the side of the knee but this doctor who I hadn’t seen before, was going in from the front. On his fourth attempt I said that enough was enough but he tried to get the needle in again, I firmly told him “no, it’s too painful, somethings not right” but he quite forcibly tried to keep going, I actually had to grab his hand and push him away and said not to try anymore. He wasn’t happy and didn’t hide the fact but I didn’t care and I didn’t have any more silicone injections again and I informed my consultant why on my next visit.
So remember, its your health, its your appointment, make sure you are heard and make sure you are happy with what is said, however always remember that the man or woman in front of you has spent many years of hard work to get where they are and they know (rarely they don’t) what they are doing.
Until next time!