Why Bedside Manners Matter: Do You Know How to Talk to Your Doctor?
Customer service is something that is emphasized in almost any profession. Somehow, though, customer service is often an afterthought in the practice of medicine.
But does it matter? Isn't it just good enough that a doctor be knowledgeable? Isn't it more important for him or her to know how to treat your illnesses than to be friendly? Or is it...
Bedside manners matter because in order for a doctor to know how to treat you, he needs to know what is wrong with you. That involves asking you questions. In medical terms, this is called taking a "history." A doctor needs to know all of your symptoms, what you are feeling, how often it is happening, and even the things that seem to have absolutely nothing to do with why you are in his or her office.
It's not only important for your doctor to ask you questions; it is also important that you be able to ask him or her questions. You should be able to ask questions like, "why am I being given this treatment?" "What are its alternatives?" "What can I expect to happen next?" "Is there any other possible diagnosis that can explain my symptoms?" "Will I get better?"
As a medical malpractice attorney, I find that too many of my cases involve lack of communication between the patient and the doctor. They involve doctors who lack bedside manners or the willingness to ask the important questions. The patients then become intimidated and stop asking questions and just follow the doctors' orders - until it becomes incredibly obvious that something is seriously wrong.
This is not how things are supposed to be! You are supposed to be able to ask questions and you should be participating in your treatment plan. You should know the risks and benefits of your treatment - this is what is called "informed consent."
If you are not able to speak to your doctor, perhaps it's time to find a new one. If you believe that a doctor has misdiagnosed you or failed to diagnose you, it is time to get a second opinion. If a doctor's error has caused you a serious permanent injury, contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately for a consultation. Remember, there are limitations to the time you can file a claim against a doctor.
Lastly, when choosing a lawyer, "bedside" manners matter then too. So, consult with an attorney who will take the time to hear your whole story, will take note of the details, and will give you an honest opinion after doing her due diligence in investigating your case.
If you are in New Jersey or New York, call me now for a free consultation and evaluation of your medical malpractice case.