Listening = Best Care

Listening = Best Care

I recently made a Twitter post in which I respectfully petitioned medical
professionals to resist the temptation to dismiss patient information when it
comes from a caregiver. It clearly struck a chord as it was re-tweeted 77 times,
received more than 230 likes, and had multiple comments which affirmed my

As a caregiver, I have been so thankful for the people who have dedicated their
lives to the study of medicine and all of its various supporting fields—including
(but not limited to) physicians, nurses, therapists and health aides. Their
expertise, gained through much study and hard work, is truly respected and
greatly appreciated.

Oddly enough, though, sometimes it seems like the years of study and practice
actually pose a stumbling block to communication between practitioner and
patient. As caregivers, we’ve shared with professionals who are assigned to care
for our loved ones what we know about their reactions and previous medical
experiences; subsequently, we’ve been subjected to different levels of having our
input brushed aside by those same professionals.

I’m personally aware of two separate situations where doctors cut patients
off—refusing to see them again—when either the patient or the caregiver
expressed concerns about the doctor’s prescribed medication regiment; in one
case, the questions were posed because there had been dark, depressive side
effects which had greatly alarmed the caregiver.

It’s always encouraging when the patient and/or their caregiver can have a
dialogue with the medical professional, and the expectation that each side will
listen to the other is met. I believe great patient care goes beyond the textbook
and classroom; from a patient/caregiver perspective, I would urge medical
professionals to appreciate that even though caregivers may not have their
degrees in the sciences, there is no replacement for the school of experience. As
caregivers, we spend far more time than anyone else with our loved one, and we
learn quickly what works and what doesn’t. If medical professionals work in
tandem with family caregivers, it’s ultimately the patient who wins.


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