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The relationship between doctors and patients

October 26, 2011 11:43:41 AM PDT
Medical visits seem to go a bit faster nowadays.

There are more demands placed on how you and your doctor relate.

But there is a way to handle this relationship that's critical to your health.

Paper work, insurance companies' refusal to pay for a test or a drug, medical emergencies.

These demands on the relationship between you and your doctor are making modern medicine difficult for both of you.

But as with all relationships, communication is the key. Your doctor must talk with you, and you with your doctor.

This relationship, doctor and patient, can be an anxious one.

Patients are often sick and needy, doctors can seem rushed.

Time is critical, and it's important that both people communicate well.

Dr. Stephen Paget, of the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan lectures on this issue.

"As in any relationship, it takes two. It's important that each person knows their responsibilities and expresses them the best way that the can," Dr. Paget said.

That's clear to some people Eyewitness News spoke to.

"I think it should be a partnership, he should be there to listen and answer my questions, no matter how long it takes," a patient said.

It's a good idea.

Bring a list of three or four questions to ask, make sure you get them answered.

Bring a list of pills that you take.

The doctor's role is to explain illness and medications in lay person's language, so you can understand how a pill should be taken, how it works and what are the side effects.

Is there a cheaper, but still effective one?

If you don't understand a response, say so.

Should family be in the exam room? You bet. The doctor can get more information from people who have observed your problem first hand and you can feel more comfortable with their support and their advocating for you.

This may surprise some people.

They think that there is a power differential and that the doctor has more power than they do. They have to know that they are the powerful ones," Dr. Paget said.

Without you, doctors can't survive. Who does the doctor work for?

"I think he works for me," a patient said.

If he doesn't seem to, it may be time to change doctors.

"I just switched doctors because the old one didn't listen to my questions. The new one actually does," a patient said.

Some answers about your symptoms may be found on the internet, but if you're confused or worried about what you read, that should be one of your questions.

Dr. Paget stresses that, as in all relationships, compromise is important.

Yes, your time is valuable too, but if you're kept waiting for a good reason, try to be flexible.

For more information please visit: http://www.ahrq.gov/questions


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