Maintaining a Healthy Relationship Between Doctor and Patient

Colleen Steele avatar

by Colleen Steele |

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One-sided relationships are unhealthy, so why have one with your doctor?

It’s important for both patient and doctor to be committed to establishing an open, honest, and respectful rapport.

From pediatric care to adult care, I have guided and encouraged my own son to initiate healthy bonds with his medical team. Following is some advice I’ve learned from that experience that might help you, too:

Get to know your doctor

A doctor should review your medical history prior to your first appointment. I suspect that health details can provide your physician with a mental picture of your compliancy strengths and weaknesses. It also might speak volumes about your personality and how well you advocate for yourself.

A good doctor will know their patient before meeting them, and a proactive patient will have done their research, too.

A couple important things to know about your doctor before a face-to-face meeting are their background and credentials. Finding this information is as simple as typing a doctor’s name into an online search engine.

Hospital and clinic websites can provide useful information such as whether the doctor is a resident or attending physician, their specialties, the services they provide, the conditions they treat, and an outline of their work and education history. Many other websites also provide updated information about doctors in the United States, such as the Federation of State Medical Boards, American Board of Medical Specialties, American Board of Physician Specialties, and Certification Matters.

A cornucopia of websites for physician ratings and rankings covers a range of concerns such as a doctor’s credibility, personality, bed-side manner, and work ethic, the cleanliness of facilities, and the efficiency of staff, among others.

Keep in mind that this information is a collection of patient opinions. Weigh the accuracy of reviews by perusing several sites rather than just one, and question friends and family who have been treated by the same doctor. Keep an open mind — just because a doctor isn’t right for one person doesn’t mean they won’t be right for you.

Don’t hold back information, and don’t lie

Help your doctor help you by being honest and upfront about your symptoms and self-care.

If you haven’t been taking your medications, occasionally miss dosages, or fail to take them on time, it’s important to own up to it. Tell your doctor if you have been cheating on a restrictive diet. Don’t overestimate or underestimate how much water you have been drinking. Don’t fib and say you have been exercising when you haven’t.

Embarrassment won’t harm you, but providing your physician with false information might. Unnecessary or possibly dangerous dosage and treatment changes might be made if your doctor isn’t privy to your medication errors. Dehydration from not drinking enough water can mimic symptoms caused by other conditions, as can water retention from consuming too many fluids or high-sodium foods.

Don’t send your doctor on a wild goose chase by giving them incomplete or incorrect information. It’s critical that your doctor trusts you as much as you trust them. It’s your health at stake if this relationship becomes unhealthy due to deceit.

Do not hide symptoms like a cunning child pushing things under their bed to make their room look cleaner. Every detail, whether minor, major, or embarrassing, helps your doctor accurately diagnose and treat you.

Respond to questions and ask your own

Shyness is detrimental to doctor-patient relationships, so do your best to overcome it. Expecting your doctor to do all the talking doesn’t help them, and it certainly doesn’t help you.

When asked a question that begs for more than just a yes or no answer, provide it. Express concerns about a new treatment, scheduled procedure, or surgery. Don’t pretend to understand something if you don’t. Ask your doctor questions instead of using a search engine later.

Your path to wellness could rely heavily on these discussions, so don’t waste them.

Introduce a family member or caregiver to your doctor

Whenever possible, bring someone to your appointment who helps at home and is capable of advocating for you when you are unable to. It’s advantageous for the two to meet and establish a rapport prior to an emergency.

Treat your doctor with kindness and respect

Greet them with a smile and share a sense of humor. Ask your doctor how they are doing. Chat about your good days and accomplishments. Let them know how they are helping, and before you leave, say thank you.

Listen well, speak up, and be respectful, open, and honest. Treat your doctor-patient relationship as if your life depended on it.


Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


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