HomebusinesshealthAwards and RecognitionbusinesshealthResourcesBlog
The Callery Group
About UsOur ServicesContact Us

What You Don't Want to Say to Your Doctor
There are some things that you want to explain to your doctor, and some things you really should stay away from.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine raised quite a few eyebrows. It found that patients had an average of 18 seconds to tell their doctors what the problem was before they were interrupted. A series of other studies that came later were even more surprising – one published in

Family Medicine found that patients had, on average, just 12 seconds to talk before they were cut off.

There's an important lesson to be learned from this. It's how to talk to your doctor to make sure you get the best possible use of those first few seconds when you tell your story.

What every doctor really wants to hear is what you are experiencing, what your symptoms are, what you feel, when you feel it, and how long you've felt it.

The chances are good that the doctor won't cut you off when you are giving this kind of relevant information, except perhaps to ask questions.

What your doctor really doesn't want to hear – and the point at which he or she will most likely cut you off – is what you think it might be, or what your friends said they thought it was, or what you found in a chat room on the Internet.

Doctors generally do respect a well-informed patient, but there is a fine line between educating yourself on medical sites on the one hand, and getting caught up in the hype of less reputable materials on the other. One big problem with searching on the Internet is that when we see a list of symptoms, most of us will immediately start to think we have all of them. It's a funny thing and perfectly natural – doctors even have a term for it: Medical student syndrome. But it's not useful or helpful in the examining room, so it's best to leave all that at home.

Like they used to say on Dragnet, "Just the facts." It helps to think it through while you're in the waiting room to get your thoughts in order. The first thing you want to say after "Hello Doctor," is "The reason I've come to see you today is that…" followed by a few simple, direct words that describe the thing that made you decide to seek medical advice.

  • What is the one thing that stands out or first made you think there might be a problem?
  • What are your symptoms? Describe things such as pain, swelling, restriction of motion, rash, cough, nausea, loss of appetite, persistent diarrhea, a funny lump somewhere, blurry vision, dizziness – whatever is going on.
  • When did you first notice or experience this, how severely, and how often?
  • Have you changed your lifestyle significantly? Moved to a new home, joined an exercise program, quit smoking, started a new diet?
  • Are you taking any prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs or herbal supplements?
  • Has there been a major change in your life around this time?

Things like losing a job or starting a new one, a breakup in a relationship, a major family event, or whatever is happening.
This is the information your doctor needs in order to know what to look for, where to look, what to test, and what questions to ask you. Everything else is pretty much beside the point.

There is one exception to the "just the facts" rule, though. While it is not generally helpful to tell the doctor what you think it is, it can sometimes be important to explain what you're worried it might be. This can be vital information in your family doctor's goal of "treating the whole patient." If you clearly explain your fear, he or she can talk to you, explain what's going on and either lay your fears to rest or put them in a manageable perspective.

If there is a topic that you would like me to write about,
please email me at billz@callerygroup.com.

Copyright Notice

All rights reserved. All of the content herein is the sole property of the Callery Group, and may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system - in whole or in part - without the written permission of the Callery Group. Links to the originating article at www.callerygroup.com are permitted.

The Buzz Bits
Miscellaneous links to interesting benefits information

Asserting Cause: What not to do (from Blane McMurtry)

From the Masthead

Freedom of choice may be coming to an end in drug plans

Statutory Holidays 101

Personalized wellness plans good - but take a communal approach

When is an employee benefit taxable?

Top 50 DC plans report: A look at the latest governance trends

Anatomy of a business sale

To access our previous newsletters and to see this month's top tips for your business, please visit our web site.

Community Ethics, Big City Expertise

Subscribe to the Buzz Blog

Blog archive

Survey Says: Wellness Programs Improve Overall Satisfaction

It seems that employees' satisfaction with wellness programs spills over into satisfaction with their benefits programs and their jobs in general [more]

Changes Coming to Personal Emergency Leave Laws

Amendments to the Employment Standards Act will significantly increase legally mandated employee leaves [more]

The Good News and the Bad News on Diabetes

We keep hearing about a "diabetes epidemic," but there are things we can do now to improve our odds of beating the statistics [more]

Who's Your "Broker" Working For?

In a world of brokers, agents, advisors and consultants, it's important to stay focused on who's really working for you [more]

The Secret to Really Good Workplace Wellness

Workplace wellness is a way to solve a lot of problems before they even come up [more]

Medical Marijuana - More Questions than Answers

A lack of medical consensus makes drug plan coverage of medical marijuana very difficult [more]

Pharmacogenomics Means Better Prescriptions

A simple DNA test can now help pinpoint which drugs are going to work best for you [more]

Why Airplanes Crash

What one successful CEO learned from air crash investigations – and how it all applies to managing any organization [more]

Not A Delicate Subject Anymore...

How to start the conversation about mental health in the workplace [more]

A Look Inside

There's more to this business that we usually talk about... [more]

Bio What-Now?

Get ready for "generic" biologics. [more]

What You Don't Want to Say to Your Doctor

There are some things that you want to explain to your doctor, and some things you really should stay away from. [more]

Your Dentist's Pet Peeve

Why you should know all the ins and outs of your dental insurance plan before you ever lean back in the chair and open wide [more]

About that Credit Card Travel Insurance

It may be of some value, especially if you have no pre-existing conditions, but you really need to read that fine print [more]

Right Drug, Right Time, Right Cost

Why you should work with your doctor, your pharmacist, and your drug plan to make sure you get optimal treatmenty [more]

Big Smiles

A focus on dental plans will ensure that everyone remains happy [more]

Your Doctor Doesn't Know Everything

When it comes to prescriptions, patients need to be part of the conversation [more]

Prescription for Disaster

Advances in pharmaceuticals are threatening your drug plan [more]

Sleep Easy

Conditions like sleep apnea can be treated, ensuring proper rest and productive days [more]

Easy as EAP

Formal support makes a big difference when employees face personal challenges [more]

Well Done

10 ways to develop an effective workplace wellness program [more]

Mind Matters

Businesses can't afford to ignore the mental health of their employees [more]

Brian's Story

Brian Callery is celebrating 40 years in our business. It's a commitment that makes a difference in his clients' businesses [more]

The Benefits to You

The same plans designed to protect employees will also offer advantages to employers [more]

Lawyer Up

There are legal ramifications around changing benefit plans - especially if an employee is being terminated [more]

Travel Trauma

Dream vacations can turn into nightmares when travel insurance claims are denied [more]

Evolution Solution

Evolving benefit plans will meet employee needs and support recruiting and retention efforts [more]

Plan & Predict

How rising paramedical claims, drug reforms, and other trends will affect your workplace benefits [more]

Who Benefits

Education makes the case for workplace benefit plans [more]

Season of Renewal

Important questions to ask your benefits advisor before inking a deal [more]

Preventive Measures

Paramedical services help keep employees healthy, on the job, and productive [more]

A Bounce in Their Step

Canada Rubber Group employees are embracing their new wellness program [more]

Business Benefits

Shandex Group and Indaco Manufacturing discuss the value of evolving employee benefits plans [more]

A New Mindset

Workplaces can't afford to ignore the mental health of employees [more]

Cost Cutters

10 cost-cutting strategies to protect your benefits plan [more]

Safe Travels

12 ways to protect yourself on your next vacation [more]

Breaking News

Learn from the mistakes of an AOL executive when discussing any changes to your benefits plans [more]

Watch the Gaps

Protect against turnover and lost opportunities by recognizing the generation gaps [more]

Generation Next

Generation Y represents the future of your business - and will see workplace benefits plans in a different way [more]

Absent Minded

Employers are paying the price for absenteeism, but it can be controlled [more]

Think Positive

Programs that build positive workplaces make business sense [more]

Back to School

8 important lessons your employees need to learn about benefits plans [more]

Find a Better Broker

6 questions you should ask anyone who wants to sell you a benefits plan [more]

Plan Your ROI

5 ways employee benefits plans can deliver a real Return on Investment [more]

The Benefit of Benefits

3 ways a benefits plan can improve your company's bottom line. [more]

A Healthy Dose of Information

5 questions for your pharmacist that might save your drug plan and your wallet. [more]

Claim Denied

Consider these 8 ways to avoid rejected benefit claims. [more]

Travel Planning

6 questions to ask before assuming you are protected by a group plan's travel insurance. [more]

Biologic Logic

Growing list of biologic drugs could bankrupt poorly protected drug plans. [more]

Smart Shopping

8 shopping habits that will protect your benefits plan. [more]

Tough Medicine

Employees will share more responsibilities and higher costs to sustain their benefits. [more]

Crime Costs

5 scams that could be placing your benefits plan at risk. [more]

A Prescription for Your Drug Plan

Skyrocketing drug prices may be threatening your benefits plan, but generic drugs offer a cure. [more]

Planes, Trains and Travel Insurance

The fine print in your travel insurance may leave you more exposed than you think. [more]

Healthy and Wealthy

5 steps to an employee wellness program that will generate real financial returns. [more]

Avoiding Burnout During Holiday Season

Education and Prevention can help control spiraling benefit costs. [more]

Sweat the Small Stuff

Protect your staff by avoiding these common "paperwork" mistakes by administrators. [more]



Services Personal Services Corporate Services