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8 Things Patients Can Teach Their Doctors

The Pediatric Insider

© 2010 Roy Benaroch, MD

I learn a lot from books, from journals, from talking with other health professionals, and from trying to pay attention to patterns. A rash I’ve seen more than once ought to be a rash that I can diagnose. But sometimes some of the most practical, useful things that a pediatrician needs to know come from parents in the practice. These aren’t necessarily medically crucial facts, or specific tidbits on identifying or curing disease. Often, they’re simple facts that are just as important as the stuff in the medical books, but are impossible to learn from “traditional” medical education sources.

Here are some things that you really ought to share with your doctors. We need to know this stuff, and no one else is likely to tell us!

  • When medicines taste awful. There are often dozens of alternatives, and we might not know when something we prescribe tastes like gasoline– or worse. Let us know!
  • How much do things cost? We might not have a family member with asthma, so we might not realize how much one of those spacer devices for giving asthma medication costs.
  • What specialists that you’ve met were great—and which ones were not-so-great. This goes for medical specialists, but also physical therapists, tutoring centers, any place where parents take kids for help. We really want to know what places to suggest, and which to avoid.
  • Where are the good, and the bad, day care centers? What makes some better than others?
  • Tell me about my own office. If the staff has been particularly helpful, I want to know; I also want to know if someone’s been rude or snippy. Anyone can have a bad day, but I need to hear about problems before they become habits.
  • What advice have I given you that worked well? What about advice that didn’t work at all?
  • Is there a better way I could be explaining how to use a medicine or device, or a better way to explain a disease or problem?
  • Have you found a great new over-the-counter or home remedy?

Every good doc wants to get better, and the only way to get better is to learn. I’ll try to teach you stuff—but in return, I want parents in my practice to tell me things I need to know, too! If you’ve learned something that will help your pediatrician practice better medicine, speak up. Chances are, you’ll both benefit.


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