One of the greatest frustrations for patients that Phill and I regularly see is that as soon as the doctor walks from the room, as patient will recall a litany of questions for the doctor that they did not have the opportunity to ask. We’re lucky in an emergency department, as Phill and I have the luxury of walking straight back into their office and telling them that the patient had more questions and could they pop back and see them again.
However, when you have a defined appointment with a doctor, such as a surgeon, no such luxury exists. The specialist that you will be seeing will have limited time to see you. After all, doctors are absolutely famous for being unspeakably late with their appointment times. Sitting in a waiting room while the minutes, or sometimes hours tick past your appointment time is incredibly annoying. The greatest challenge for specialists is to balance their ever-expanding wait times with answering last minute questions from patients.
The best thing that a patient can do is to prepare a list of questions. This will mean that you can optimise the time that you spend with your specialist with the most important questions for the doctor that you have.
The other added benefit of preparing a list of questions is that it provides some direction for your specialist. The questions for the doctor will formulate an indication of the problems that you are experiencing.
For example, Phill has created a list. On the list is the most significant problem that he has had so far – the wound breakdown. He is concerned about that and wants to know what the long term implications for his arm might be. If Phill did not have this on his list and simply allowed the doctor to provide the information based on the assessment on the day, then this matter may not have come up. Phill is also keen to know when he can return to work. When patients start talking about work, then that is a good indicator for the specialist about their progress, pain management and potential capability. So that will formulate part of Phill’s specialist’s assessment of how he is progressing.
Phill’s burning question for the doctor is when he can ditch that splint. It’s summer here in Queensland, and we’ve had some hot days. A long tubigrip with plastic over the top is not conducive to a happy Phill. Phill is
delighted to learn that he only needs the splint now with high risk activities. So off Phill goes with splint in place and whips up some concreting action with the neighbour.
Nic Nash-Arnold has been nursing for twenty years. She has nursed thousands of patients, mainly in the operating theatre. Nicole has worked in both public and private hospitals in Queensland. Ten years ago, she left the “coal face” of nursing and moved into a Nurse Educator role and then a series of senior and executive hospital administration roles. Nic has always believed in the empowerment with education. That might be empowering nurses to provide better care or patients to take better care, but education is always the centre of the solution. Google