Monday, July 7, 2008

How to greet a patient?

We doctors meet large number of patients everyday. How should a doctor greet a patient?
Different doctors greet patients differently. It may depend on many things. How busy a doctor is may be one of the important factor. Also, the local custom play a role.

How do I greet my patients? I never open the door for my patients. Either the nurse ushers them in or they come in by their own. I will be sitting at my desk and nodding my head with a smile. Then I will start the interview asking How are you? or what happened? or what is the problem?
If I am too busy, I may be taking down some notes of the previous patient or attending a telephone call in between patients. Then, I may look at the patient's face only after he/she is seated. May be it is rude but.....
How your doctor greet you? How would you like to be greeted by your doctor? Comments and suggestions are welcome


CALpumper said...

Hey doc.
Local custom is a big part, of course but how busy a doc is can play an even bigger role.

In the States we wait to be called by a nurse who will take the vitals then ask what the problem is. They take notes then let you know the doc will be in soon.

In my experience as an adult the doc will say hello then shake my hand. If it is a first meet they will ask "what is going on" or "what is the problem today?" If a relationship has been built they will ask "how are you doing?"

We are all busy and when it comes to medical attention I personally like to know that I am going to get the most out of my 15 mins. Busy or not, when I see a doc I need to know they are there for me. I need their full attention. Then I will be up front and honest so I can get the most out of the appt. If I am not honest then they cannot help me.

I personally don't like the greeting, "what is the problem?" Only because if I am at an appt, there is a definite problem. So why ask the question? Ask, "what's going on?" or "what brought you here today?" or "what do you need?"

I think the Best greeting/question is:
How can I help you today?

Medical attention is expensive enough as it is and I don't want to be treated any different than someone with money or health insurance. I am a human being. I am not a number or statistic or liability.

Just my opinion, observation and two cents from a veteran patient. ;-)

Bernard said...

I think the best thing to do when your patient arrives is to give them your complete attention and listen to them.

If you're writing notes, they'll feel as if they have interrupted you or that you're not really listening to them.

I would much rather wait a few extra minutes so you could finish the notes before I come into the room. Then I would feel that you're really interested in listening to me.

Thanks for asking about this.