We are Patients Too…a Solutionary Story

Posted on Jul 17, 2018 by Rachel Norton

The importance of compassion in patient relationshipsMy name is Rachel Norton. I work as a technical support specialist here at Solutionreach and today I'd like to share with you one of my own experiences with the healthcare industry. Unfortunately, I have had a fairly miserable doctor experience. This doctor, an OBGYN was referred to me by family. I did not do anything else to research this doctor. Looking back, I should have taken that as a clue that maybe I should do more to find out about a doctor before picking one. I was young, impressionable, new to town and already nervous about having my first baby. I still wish I would have known better.

The appointments were poor from the beginning. He was brusque, vague in his explanations and always in a rush for my appointments to be concluded. When I asked questions that had been worrying me, he would brush them aside, act like I was worrying too much and then continue with the examination. I began to think that perhaps I really was worrying too much and should stop thinking about everything that could go wrong. I had no idea that the way a doctor communicates with you is so important to a good patient experience.

About four or five months into my pregnancy, I was in a car accident. I had my seat belt on, my airbag went off, but my car was totaled. I was a little banged up, mostly my face where the airbag had hit me, and I had a friction burn across my body where the seat belt had been, I was most worried about the baby. The firemen there gave me some minor first aid and the paramedics asked if I’d like to go to the hospital for further checkups. I was hesitant to take them up on it.

My doctor had told me numerous times not to worry so much, that babies were more resilient than I thought and the safest place for my baby was in my uterus. I declined the offer, assumed everything was probably fine and just wanted to go home and rest. I didn't want to feel like I was being "that" mom. 

After resting a few hours I just couldn’t stop thinking that I should really just get the baby checked out. I hadn’t felt it moving much and just wanted to be assured that everything was okay. I called the doctor, and was able to get an emergency appointment that day.

When he came into the exam room, I explained what had happened. I told him I was trying not to worry too much but just couldn’t bear not knowing if the baby was okay. He then began to berate me for being negligent. According to him, I should have immediately taken the paramedics up on their offer to go to the hospital for a more detailed checkup and I should have called him from the hospital so that he could checkCompassion is important to patient satisfaction out the baby there. 

The baby turned out to be just fine, though I left the office in tears.

By the end of those forty weeks, I was a nervous wreck. Without the support of my doctor, I felt so alone. I was honestly terrified. Unfortunately, my labor did not improve my impression of the doctor. He was short with me. He demeaned my efforts during labor. Eventually, I had an emergency c-section. I'm so grateful that my son was born healthy and well. 

I am also grateful for all I learned about the importance of finding a doctor that is compassionate and communicates well. To me, excellent communication with patients includes: 

  1. Having a good bedside manner—If a patient doesn't trust you, they don't want to listen to your advice or feel comfortable talking to you about symptoms.
  1. Giving them time to speak—You may feel like you're always running behind and need to get to the next patient, but let each patient be heard. You can learn a lot by listening.
  1. Explain in a way they can understand—Patients are generally not medical professionals. Use terminology that interests them and explains their symptoms & condition in a way they can understand.
  1. Using technology to communicate —Email or text your patient the info regarding their condition and what was discussed during the office visit. Patients are unlikely to remember everything they were told in one visit. Plus, the office notes show that you were listening and your patient will appreciate it.

For more info on developing compassion at your practice, download our free guide, "Discover the Secret Sauce of Patient Satisfaction."

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