Image via WikipediaA few weeks back Dr. Rob wrote a letter to his chronically ill patients that made me wish he was my doctor. I want to give him kudos and positive feedback for demonstrating his savvy and compassion for all of us living with chronic illness. Then I started thinking about some of the issues he raised and found myself wanting to write a response. So here is my wish list of a few things I wish my doctors would do for me:
Do Your Homework
There are a lot of things wrong with me and I would think this fact alone would send you running to your medical textbooks and journals. Yet it appears that you rely on me to educate you about my conditions. Given that you have the medical degree, have been trained to evaluate and apply medical knowledge and have access to more medical education resources than I do, I don't think I am out-of-line asking that you do your homework.
Talk to My Other Doctors
I think it is time to resurrect the multidisciplinary medical case conference. You know, where you get together with my other doctors and health professionals and spend time talking about my diagnoses and medical care. I'm hoping that if you could get together, it might spark some new ideas and supercharge the problem-solving process. Barring that, could you at least request my records from my other doctors instead of always relying on me to communicate and bring that information to you?
Network with Your Colleagues
I know it's not fair to expect you to have knowledge of everything, so can I ask that you at least have working relationships with other doctors you can refer me to for further work-up and treatment? And what I mean by that is: be acquainted with their work, develop a rapport with them and set up a good patient referral and feedback system with them.
Create a Backup Plan with Me
Like fast-food restaurants and ATMs, healthcare system is one of those things meant to be accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not that I expect you personally to be accessible all the time. It's just that my health can be unpredictable and I often need your help when you are least available. So in the spirit of keeping medical costs down and meeting my medical needs, let's have a conversation about how you'd like to see me approach getting my after-hours medical crises met and what your role will be in the process.
Be the Quarterback
I like that I can bring you medical journal articles and new stories that I find about my conditions. However, please understand the reason I bring these things to you is to get you to engage in the process of critical thinking about my conditions and possible new treatments for them. What I really want is for you to be like the quarterback on a football team, who takes into consideration everything on the playing field and then decides which direction the team will go.
Focus on the Medical
Maybe it's the plethora of advertisements for psychotropic medications on TV, but you seem preoccupied with my mental health. I get the impression that focusing on the mental gives you an out from further exploring the medical reasons behind physical symptoms that plague me. So I want to ask that you please stick with what you know, and unless you are a psychiatrist, refrain diagnosing me with a psychological disorder.
Think Outside the Box
There is a reason why so many of us living with chronic illness are enamored with the fictional Dr. Gregory House. We love how he just doesn't give up trying to figure out what is medically wrong with a patient. He embodies the concept of thinking outside the box, something I wish you would do more of for me. In fact, if you could just address my most troublesome symptoms and make it easier for me to cope with them, you would have my undying gratitude.
What are some of the things you wish your doctor would do for you that they aren't doing currently? You can share your thoughts about this subject by leaving your comment...