A Patient Turns the Table

We often talk about the doctor-patient relationship and the importance of its preservation. The cornerstone of this relationship is communication. A physician needs to know a patient’s symptoms and medical history, and a patient needs to understand their disease process and treatment options. An essential element to effective communication is providing the opportunity for questions.

Recently, a patient asked me a seemingly simple question: “Do you have any questions of me?” Since we had already exchanged many pieces of information, I knew that his question transcended anything “medical.” I have always thought that adding a little conversation to the medical dialog is important. A little chatter goes a long way towards building a relationship and providing a relaxing atmosphere. But this patient pointed out an even more important benefit. Knowing more about a patient helps me tailor their care more appropriately. I want to know how my patients tick.

My father has often said that everything in life revolves around relationships. Like most of his advice, it repeatedly rings true.