You catch more flies with honey than vinegar: what the patient can do to get the best medical care.

Home » Affordable Care Act » You catch more flies with honey than vinegar: what the patient can do to get the best medical care.

This is a really old and kind of cheesy bit of wisdom. Let me repeat it though: You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. I tell my clients this pretty frequently surprisingly. I think people are so used to being assertive (or even aggressive) in their work lives that they don’t think about how this attitude may affect their ability to obtain good healthcare. Healthcare providers like doctors, nurses, medical assistants, social workers, etc. are generally kind, touchy feely type of people. I’ll admit it doesn’t always seem that way. But think of it from their perspective. They go into their profession thinking they will be healers and helpers and then people yell at them! A lot. They demand and argue and sometimes do worse things. It may be for something beyond the control of that caring person. After a while, even the nicest, kindest human is going to become hardened when they put up with this a lot. Caregiving people deal with a lot of bad stuff with their clients/patients: death, illness, physical and emotional pain, losses, financial problems, family issues and more. It takes a toll on them and when a patient then is not very nice to them, it can put them over the top. Yes, they should understand and they do. But when they are being personally attacked on a regular basis, it gets harder and harder to smile and be supportive. Who could blame them for seeing the “nasty” patient come through the door and feeling tense, anxious and defensive? Again, they are human and humans have a breaking point. Do you want this broken, angry, defensive person taking care of your medical needs? I don’t. So, I tell my clients and remind myself often, be nice. If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all and anything else Thumper’s mother would have said……because the fact is that in the healthcare world, you may get what you demanded for the moment and you may feel unburdened, but is that person going to listen and care next time you have a medical problem? Are they going to want to support and help you? Probably not. So, first and foremost if your doctor and his/her office staff are regularly not helpul to you, divorce them. See my previous post. But if you generally think they are ok and haven’t found anything better, try a new appoach. Be nice. Find something to compliment about them or the office. Be honest. There must be something. Apologize for your lateness or other mistakes you are respoinsbile for. Don’t assume they are incompetent or stupid or lazy. Say “Looks like you are having a bad day. I can call later if that is better.” Say, “What can I do to help with this situation?” Admit that you may have misunderstood or mixed things up. Maybe they did mess up,  but you probably make mistakes too, right? This morning a lovely orthopedic surgeon who happens to have a very nice office staff, thanked me for being nice. He told me he appreciated my medical advocacy competence, caring,  and smarts, too but I really appreciated the “nice” part.  They work hard to accomodate my clients, explain things thoroughly, provide help and support as needed.  Have they been perfect? No, but they really do care and really do try. Would they have been as “nice” if my client or I had been nasty? I don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, I am more than “nice.” I get things done for my clients. But I don’t do “nasty.” The good thing is that if “nice” doesn’t work, we can vote with our wallets and take our business somewhere else.  I want kindness in my healthcare providers and they no doubt, appreciate it from me as well.

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Abraham Advocates
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