Saturday, March 23, 2013

Things I Say All the Time

Long experience has taught me that patients love to hear the following.

1.  “This isn’t a serious problem, and it never turns into a serious problem.”

Doctors know that many tiresome ailments such as hemorrhoids, bladder infections, migraine, or herpes never turn into something worse, but patients don’t know this. A doctor must tell them. 

2.  “I want you to call me any time.”

Doctors say this all the time, but you know what happens when you try. I show guests my cell phone and promise to answer in person if they call. Naturally, I do this because I’m a compassionate physician, but there’s an element of self-interest. If guests aren’t getting better, I want them to tell me – not the hotel.

3.  “Staying in bed won’t make this go away any faster.”

Travelers waste valuable days in a boring hotel room, so I try to take the pressure off. This myth is so universal that when I reassure non-English speaking guests, I ask them what I’ve just said. Almost always, they repeat it back minus the negative.

4.  “You’ll feel under the weather for a few days; then you’ll feel better.”

Guests may suffer for weeks, but once they see a doctor, they want things to move quickly. If I don’t explain that this might not happen, I often hear from them the next day.

5. “It’s not your fault.”

A baleful consequence of the popularity of alternative medical theories is that patients believe they’re responsible for getting suck. Mostly, they’re not.  

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