Friday, May 7, 2010

When So-So isn't Good Enough

I have mixed feelings about meeting my new rheumatologist since Dr. S. is no longer available. Establishing a new relationship with a new doctor takes time and energy, and although I have plenty of time, the energy side of this equation is definitely lacking.

I was thinking about what I would do if my new doctor is just so-so. I think I'd not have any problems in sacking someone that I felt was totally inappropriate. But someone that's just.....kind of OK? Hm.

Loolwa Khazzom, who writes the blog Dancing With Pain, has written an interesting post entitled, "5 Red Flags that a Healthcare Practitioner May Not be Safe For You", which puts an interesting spin on the new doctor search:
".....sometimes staying with a healthcare practitioner can be more than unpleasant. It can be unsafe. That practitioner may misdiagnose us, jack up our pain levels through the stress of dealing with her or him, or even physically injure us by not listening to critical information we share. As exasperating as it may feel, and as draining as it may be, it just might be worth it to look for someone else to manage our care. Here are 5 red flags that a healthcare practitioner may not be safe for you:"
You can read the post in it's entirety here.

Ms. Khazzom alludes to the issues of inappropriate touch and conversation, but goes beyond the obvious to discuss other characteristics of your healthcare provider that may be more detrimental than you may think, such as a callous attitude or disregard for a patient's preferences.

Having been on the provider side of the patient/healthcare provider relationship, I can see why some providers may be less empathetic or focused as we patients would like. Healthcare is a stressful occupations, but that stress is no excuse for poor care. I've seen first hand those that rise above the irritation and stress of their job to give each patient the care that they deserve. I know the good guys/gals are out there. I've worked with them and seen them in action.

I want one of those.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I want one of those.

You also need and deserve one of those; don't forget that part of the equation!

Some of it is also personality match or mismatch. My husband's current doctor might well have been a good doctor for my mother, who could seldom find them. (She smoked, she wouldn't give it up, and she hated being hassled so much that she would not see a doctor who couldn't let it go after she said it wasn't on the table. I know why they push it, but it made it worse, by causing her to not get treatment for anything that wasn't a clear emergency.)

S gets on well with his doctor but would likely be fine with one like mine. I? I would not get on well with his doctor at ALL. He's laid back, non-aggressive, calm - to the point of almost-indifference from my perspective. Rationally it's not so, but it's the impression he makes on me. I got the impression he thinks I'm high-strung; he's probably right. (My doctor understands that what's needed if you don't want me to be high strung is not to reassure me without info, or tell me it's no big deal, but to answer my questions and/or otherwise clarify the data. S, on the other hand, doesn't really care - if the doctor says it's okay, that's what he wants.)

So some of it is - there really are some bad and/or too-jaded-to-keep-doing-this-safely practitioners out there. But some of it is also just personality and style. If I drive my doctor nuts, or vice versa, it's time for a new doctor.

The less energy you have and the less time, the more important I suspect it is to spend that energy and time (argh!) to get a close match. Because you need a doctor who is good enough that when you are having a really bad run of things, you can trust them to carry as much of the load as they may need to. That's true of all of us, but chronic illness probably means you're more likely to have to deal with that scenario.