Turning the tables on awkward things patients have said to doctors

I try to not get too uppity about articles on silly websites like Buzzfeed… but this one was both funny and thought provoking.

I so get it. Patients often ask weird things of their doctors.

Instead of taking this as a moment to laugh, though, shouldn’t we be examining the things that are clearly lacking in our communities? For example, one patient asks in this article if the doctor can help them to write a CV. This could indicate a few things – local schools have not done their job of preparing us for the real world, local occupational assistance is either non-existent or not well known, or many other things.

Doctors are, due to the idea of the white coats making them experts, often the first place people look to for help. I have talked with my former rheumy’s NP about wedding planning or other things that don’t seem related to my health, but are. Perhaps in the above example what the patient really needs help with is having stability in their job and living situation so that they can access better care. Why are these things to laugh about?

As someone who wasn’t raised getting health care and had to transition – or even start – all by myself, this is a subject I’m a little sensitive about for sure. I didn’t know what things were relevant. I still sometimes am unsure, but I will share what may be needed just in case. A bird pooping on me may not be relevant, but if that’s caused some sort of skin reaction it could be.

Some of these are no doubt things I’ve gone in for. We don’t know the backgrounds of these patients thanks to HIPAA, but that also means we don’t know what’s prompted these things. Have some of these patients been in the same situation as me growing up? Are they from areas with socioeconomic issues and as such don’t have access to mental health care or other needed services? Do they have underlying diseases that make things like sore throats a big deal? Are they first time parents concerned about how well they’re doing? Have these patients lacked some basic education on their bodies?

Instead of taking time to laugh at these, let’s take time to look at why these questions could be asked. Patients should never be people to be laughed at. After all, we know our bodies well. Some of us may not have certain advantages, which makes communicating things hard.

Let’s turn the tables though. What are some things that our doctors have said that are laughable?

I had a doctor laugh at me for an emergency appointment, thinking my dental abscess was a pimple. He told me to continue my biologic medication, which no doubt would’ve landed me in the hospital.

What laughable things can you add?

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