"My doctor doesn’t listen to me”
Have you ever said this?
As a patient, it can be frustrating and disheartening to feel like your doctor is not listening to you. After all, you've come to them for help and it's important to feel heard and understood. However, if you feel like your doctor is not listening to you, there are some steps you can take to improve the situation and get the care you need.
This is not an insult to doctors, as there are many great doctors. Most great doctors have their patient’s best interests in hand.
That said, doctors are busy people. Like all of us, they are humans incapable of perfection.
Speak up for yourself
Ensure you calmly and clearly tell your doctor how you are feeling. Doctors cannot read your mind, and although it can be frustrating telling multiple doctors the same things, it is the best way to ensure that something is not being lost on their side.
You live your life every day. You know what you are capable of doing.
Before your appointment, write down your symptoms, concerns, and questions. This will help you stay focused during your visit and make sure you cover all the important points.
Try to keep a symptom diary, where you record what you are feeling and on what days, and not just what you would consider physcial symptoms, also think about mood irratibility etc. COPD is a complex disease and many patients have different symptoms, this can mean that the doctor may not be aware of your symptoms.
Ask questions to clarify anything you don't understand and make sure your doctor is providing all the information you need. If you don't understand something, ask for clarification.
If your symptoms are ignored, ask, “What might this be?” And then ask, “What do I do if these symptoms get worse?” These type of questions help the doctor to stop and consider the options. You also might want to phrase it as, “What else might this be?” Just because you have one established condition, doesn’t mean that you can’t have a second issue that needs independent investigating.
Do your research
We are all guilty of doing some research, which is good. Of course, it is highly recommended that we research reputable websites or read books by reputable authors.
Many of us get ideas from others who are living with COPD. We learn from others in communities like ours.
This should lead to a discussion. Your doctor should give you a satisfactory explanation as to what he or she thinks.
I do this all the time with my doctors. What can it hurt? Sometimes my doctors agree with me, and sometimes they do not. Still, it results in a nice discussion.
Keep trying until you get an answer
Try to find a medical practice you can trust. Healthcare professionals are under severe time constraints but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have time to hear their patients’ reasonable concerns and goals. If you feel that your doctor or nurse-practitioner is consistently ignoring what you have to say, even if your symptoms continue to progress, find another primary care practice.
If you feel your primary care doctor doesn’t take your symptoms seriously, ask for a referral to a specialist or go to a different practice for a second opinion. A fresh set of eyes can be extremely helpful.
Unfortunately, you have to advocate for yourself. You are a unique case. No one knows you better than you, not even your doctor. although your doctors will hopefully try their best, they have lots of patients and it’s just their job, it’s your life.
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