An Open Letter to Medical Professionals:
The physician/patient relationship is a complicated one. I realize this. And in the United States, there aren’t a lot of rules for decorum. So, because I like you (or at least some of you), I’m going to give you a few pointers today of things you probably shouldn’t say to patients.
For starters, you should never tell a patient of the opposite sex that s/he has a nice figure. That’s just icky. Then we start wondering how you’re imagining said figure. Along those lines, you shouldn’t be so bold as to say something like “WOW! You look so, SO much better when you’re straight!” to a person with scoliosis. I promise: the patient will begin to doubt your years of education. I’m pretty sure that most young children could identify the better-looking option. If that’s all your 8+ years at fancy schools taught you, we’re in trouble.
Never utter the phrase “Oh, I know just how you feel.” The one exception to this? If you are the patient’s long-lost identical twin, because we’ve all heard those Discovery Channel shows about the separated-at-birth-twins who led basically identical lives. In fact, if you are my long-lost twin, I’m liable to forgive your misguided attempt at empathy anyway.
And while there’s something to be said for a medical professional who gets excited by her job, as a patient it’s a little disconcerting to hear, “Yah, all of us were just in the back looking at your x-rays. We’ve never seen anything like it!” Sorry, it just doesn’t inspire confidence.
That said, patients usually don’t mind if you’re honest and tell us when you don’t know the answer. We’d rather you be up front then pretend to be an All Knowing Medical God, ‘cause we can totally see through that routine, even though we didn’t go to 8+ years of school for that.
Moral of the story? Use some common sense. And if you’re short on that, just give me a ring and I’ll tell you what to say. My rates are reasonable, I promise!
Maya, the Marfan Mom