Article Date: 8/1/2011

Deacons Can Go Too
lessons learned

Deacons Can Go Too

Optometrists often duel over dual meanings.

Jack Runninger, O.D.

The Baptist preacher had an argument with the Board of Deacons, and they fired him. The following Sunday he gave his last sermon.

“Even though you think you lead a good life,” he thundered to the congregation, “you could still go to hell! And even though I'm a preacher, if I do something wrong, I could also go to hell.

“And the Board of Deacons can go there too!!!”

The preacher obviously found a subtle way to get across his message to the board. But we need to be more direct in communicating with patients to make certain they understand us. Unfortunately, there are a number of roadblocks to this.


ILLUSTRATION BY AMY WUMMER

Unfamiliar words

“A new patient told me she was so impressed with my examination and modern equipment, that she wanted to also make an appointment for her husband, so I could evaluate his retinal problem,” e-mails Dr. Donald Kanoff, Parsippany, N.J.

“When I asked her what the condition was, she replied, ‘He has masculine degeneration.'”

(Come to think of it, that may be new terminology for what I have at my age.)

Remember that most patients are not exposed to medical terms that are common for us and thus, can misunderstand their meanings. Someone hearing the following medical terms for the first time might confuse their meanings with words that sound similar:

► benign — what you be after you be eight
► dilate — live a long time
► tumor — one plus one more
► fester — quicker
► node — I knew it

“An internist and his wife moved to our small southern town,” reports Dr. Matt Dixon, Perry Ga. “One of their first encounters was with a neighbor. They told her that they were sad to leave their previous city because it had one of the highest literacy rates in the country.

“ ‘Oh, honey, we have the same problem here!’ she replied.”

As you can see, it's not only medical terms your patients can misunderstand.

Like this

It has often been said that one picture is worth a thousand words. I'm a firm believer in this power of demonstration. Evidently, some patients also believe this is the best way of communicating.

“A 73-year-old woman came in for an eye exam,” said Dr. Mike Silverman, Coral Springs, Fla. “In trying to figure out the best reading add for her, I gave her a reading card, and asked her to demonstrate how she held a book when she reads. Obviously, believing in the efficacy of demonstrating, the woman turned herself sideways in my exam chair, kicked off her shoes, slung her legs over the arm rest, leaned back a little, and said, ‘There you go.’”

Dual meanings

“I want you to know that I prayed for you three times last night,” the preacher told a young lady, whose morals and reputation concerned him.

“That wasn't necessary,” she replied coyly and flirtatiously. “All you had to do was to call, and I'd have come right over!”

Which illustrates that another pitfall to effective communication is the dual meaning of words and phrases. Another example of this:

“You've been brought before this court for drinking,” said the judge to the drunk.

“All right!,” said the inebriate enthusiastically. “When can we get started?” 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: August 2011