You trust your physician with your health and the well-being of your family. Whether you’re visiting for a minor illness or an annual physical, you expect your doctor to listen to you and help determine the best way to preserve (or regain) your health. Most patients believe that their doctors will always do what is best for them, but sometimes that isn’t the case. As more hospitals and medical practices become parts of massive corporations, patient care and relationships suffer. Doctors are now under pressure to see as many patients as possible in a shift.
Long explanations or discussions will decrease that productivity, potentially causing issues for the doctor involved. That can lead to doctors rushing, ignoring or cutting off patients. The end result can be misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose someone in a timely manner.
Instead of focusing on developing relationships and carefully evaluating each patient, corporate practices focus on getting as many people as possible in and out of the practice each day. In order to accomplish this goal and maximize profits, they may place a specific expectation on each practitioner to see a set number of patients.
This can leave doctors in a position where they have to visit with and diagnose dozens of people every day. The rush to get from room to room quickly can lead doctors to overlook important information or even ignore patients reporting symptoms of potentially serious medical conditions.
Your best option when visiting your doctor is to lead with the most serious symptoms first. You might even want to practice what you say before you arrive, because chances are good you won’t get an option to expand on what you say.
A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine evaluating how doctors interact with patients found that, on average, doctors only spend 11 seconds listening to a patient before interrupting. In fact, many doctors don’t even ask patients why they came to the office that day. The breakdown in communication here can result in a misdiagnosis or even a failure to diagnose and treat a condition.
You rely on your doctor to evaluate your condition and diagnose any issues you have. That diagnosis is critical for connecting with timely treatment. If your doctor has ignored your symptoms or refused to work with you, that could leave you with an untreated, worsening medical condition. In the case of issues like cancer, a delay could mean the difference between surviving and succumbing to the disease.
If you believe your doctor has failed to diagnose you, seek a second opinion as soon as possible and document your attempts to secure a diagnosis.