How can you make your doctor listen?

Written by
Abraham Jaros
Updated on Tuesday, Oct 24, 2023

Few things are as frustrating as a doctor who won’t listen. You want answers, but the doctor isn’t paying any attention. Are you closer to a solution or are you just wasting time and money?

The risk is huge. One study found that over 100,000 people pass away from medical mistakes annually in the United States, and most of the mistakes revolve around an incorrect diagnosis. What can you do to make your doctor listen?

1. Do more than answer the doctor’s questions.

It can help to think of your condition as a story. Start at the beginning and don’t stop until you tell the whole thing. You know it so well; don’t forget that the doctor doesn’t know, and you must convey everything so that the doctor has all of the information that is available.

2. Ask your own questions.

When the doctor is doing tests, find out why. Ask about procedures and goals. Learn about every step in the process. Be an active participant in the care that is being offered.

3. Never assume that the doctor is correct.

People have a tendency to assume the doctor is correct, even when their gut tells them that something’s wrong. The doctor may make a diagnosis that you think makes very little sense.

This doesn’t mean you should assume the doctor is wrong, either. Just be rational, use common sense and trust yourself. Understand that doctors make mistakes. It happens, and catching it early can make a huge difference.

When you are harmed by a delayed diagnosis due to a mistake, be sure you know what legal options you have.

Source: CNN, “Opinion: When doctors don’t listen," Dr. Leana Wen and Dr. Joshua Kosowsky, accessed Sep. 06, 2017

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