A different perspective…


I love the fact that my wife is not a physio, nor has anything to do with healthcare at all. But I don’t love the fact that she has some ongoing health issues that force her to seek regular consultations and treatments. However, what this does give me is some invaluable insights and perspectives into a patients world on the other side of the consultations we as healthcare providers give.

For example, as usual this evening me and my wife were talking about our days at work and what occurred. We discussed the shock of the US presidential election (can you believe that shit!), and she went on to tell me some of the latest office gossip, and some of the issues with her suppliers and current markets. I then started to complain about the traffic getting to work, and moaned about how a lot of patients today didn’t seem to understand how I had their best interests in mind when I didn’t do things they wanted, mainly corticosteriod injections.
I went on to complain about how I wished patients would understand that I only decide NOT to do things for THEIR benefit, and how it frustrates me that many patients don’t seem to believe me and are often dissatisfied, seeing me as unhelpful or unwilling to help, and how I assume, they think I am being lazy or am trying to save costs by with holding treatment.
She then told me to get over myself!
As a patient herself seeing some of the most highly specialised and experienced professionals in their field, she reminded me how she has also been told she didn’t need a treatment, despite her own reading, feelings, and beliefs convincing her that she did.
She tells me she also gets annoyed and frustrated at her specialists when they advise and recommend something different than what she was expecting. She tells me that its not that she thinks these experts haven’t read the research, or don’t know the statistics, or with hold things for costs or other reasons. Just that they don’t know her well. She tells me yet again that if her healthcare experts listened a little more and acknowledged her concerns, fears, understanding a little better she would more likely accept what they suggested better.
It’s good to remember that there is always another perspective to all our interactions. It’s good to reflect on whether you did all you could to acknowledge those patients thoughts, opinions, and beliefs, or did you just think you did. It’s always good, as Dr Kieran O’Sullivan tells us, to ask our patients to tell you what they think they heard you say, rather than assume they have understood what you have said.

As a healthcare professional that often gives his advice and opinions to others it is good to be reminded of this regularly, and perhaps my frustrations today were due to my own failures rather than my patients?
As always thanks for reading

  1. I always try to remember how it is when I collect my car from a service: great explanation from the mechanic who makes sure I Under. Then I get home and my husband asks what they did and ninety percent is gone- ” here, read the invoice “!!
    Ie KISS and write down the diagnosis and plan of attack for my patients

  2. Hi Adam,
    When I broke my left humerus just below the lesser tuberosity I was seeing a specialist for almost 12 months. I was given exercises to perform and gradually the injury improved. It seemed to be a two way affair with the consultant asking how my shoulder was doing at each appointment. Each time I requested the injections you mention and was declined. Eventually I was given injections into the top part of my back where my shoulder blades are and the improvement was miraculous.
    As a patient and not practitioner I do think listening to the patient in any aspect of recovering from illness and/or injury a good thing.
    My wife had to literally fight to get light treatment for her cellulitus on her leg and again miraculously it healed almost immediately when this begun.
    I guess it has to be a two way approach. without you guys where would the patient be?
    ….and without feedback from a patient how can treatment be assessed as successful
    Good article

  3. So insightful What we do is the art of a science Thanks for such an honest post
    Sent from my iPhone

  4. I think all we can do is to sow pain self-management seeds and then it’s really up to the patient, who by the way have their own timetable.
    I always say to patients who are still doctor/therapy shopping. If you’re looking for quick fixes, then you’re in the wrong room, but don’t worry I’ve two tickets here for Lourdes.
    Be patient with us Adam, give us the information is a format we engage with and then its up to us. Ask us how we learn. Reading, watching or practice or perhaps a combination of 2-3.
    Many of us are slow learners.
    Keep up the good work.

  5. A very valid and well made point. After the subjective assessment I always ask “What do you expect from me?” – some patients want a diagnosis, others a massage, some a scan, others exercises etc. I think sometimes we assume we know what they want/expect but this may not be the case. They may have unrealistic expectations which need to be dealt with carefully but this simple question opens up a discussion.

  6. Good article on an important topic. In my opinion, the way we present information is THE most important thing when treating a patient who wants something that we do not believe is appropriate. Many of my patients are angry and frustrated with their doctor not for what they are saying, but the way they are saying it, which is often dictatorial and condescending. How many times have we heard, “the doctor isn’t listening to me, he just thinks I’m crazy”. If I listen to them, really listen to their whole story so that they know that I am genuinely concerned, and then explain the different options in plain English, including why I honestly believe that what they are asking for is really not a good idea, 99 times out of 100 they will say, “ok, that makes sense, why didn’t anyone explain that to me before?” Patients don’t really want to tell us how to do our jobs, they just want to be taken seriously.

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