Article Date: 7/1/2011

Deception Perception
lessons learned

Deception Perception

Don't let patient perceptions turn your practice (and menus) upside down.

Jack Runninger, O.D.

“Ever since I came home from two weeks in China, my nose is purple and swollen, and really hurts,” the patient told his doctor.

“I hate to tell you, but you have the Mongolian Flu,” said the M.D. “It is very serious and I'm afraid we're going to have to amputate your nose.”

The man was of course horrified, and decided to seek a second opinion from a Chinese doctor who might have more knowledge about the disease.

“He's right, you do have Mongolian Flu,” said the Chinese M.D. “But his saying you need to have your nose amputated is ridiculous! He's like most American doctors, just trying to make money from your misfortune.”

“Thank God!” said the patient.

“After all,” the doctor continued, “there's no need to amputate when it's going to rot and fall off within three weeks anyway.”

As with the Chinese doctor, much of the public unfortunately often perceives health care practitioners as mercenary. It's a perception we need to remember, and try to combat.

Dr. G____ goofed

Another perception factor we need to be aware of is our patients' self perception.

“I'll never go back to see Dr. G___!” an attractive 43-year-old lady told me. “He told me I needed bifocals because I was getting old!”

My momma didn't raise no dummy, so I told her that wasn't the reason. Instead it was because the crystalline lens in her eyes had been gradually losing elasticity ever since she was 10 years old, so now needed a little extra help. I suggested progressive add lenses without bifocal lines. She immediately liked me a whole lot better than she did Dr. G____.


ILLUSTRATION BY AMY WUMMER

They just don't like specs

Another problem we deal with in patients' self perception, is that many people just don't like specs! Part of the reason may be like Ethel Mertz in the “I Love Lucy” TV program, when she looked in the mirror, and said, “You know, now that I don't see so good, I don't look so bad.”

Another advantage of not wearing glasses is that things look better, since you can't see things such as dirt on the floor. After all, is your floor really dirty if you don't see it that way? This philosophy does not work at my house. My bride, even without her glasses, can spot every microscopic dust particle, while I have excellent acuity, and like most men, never notice it until it reaches a depth of a couple of feet.

Old and ugly

However, the main reason people don't like specs is they think they bring unwanted attention to themselves, in some cases making them look old or even less attractive. This can cause spectacles (pun intended) such as the following, which you've probably witnessed.

A group of 50-year-olds goes to a restaurant for dinner, none of whom are wearing their glasses. “I can't read this menu without my glasses,” Barbara complains.

“You're holding it upside down,” Joe explains.

Everyone is holding the menus up for more light, squinting to read them, and comparing notes. You are probably the only one there wearing your glasses. However, it doesn't do you a lick of good, because your glasses are busy traveling around the table to your fellow diners to help them read the menu.

The purpose of all this is to try to escape the attention of wearing glasses?! OM


JACK RUNNINGER, OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE'S ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@COMCAST.NET.

Optometric Management, Issue: July 2011