WORDS, AND PRONUNCIATION, MATTER WHEN PRESCRIBING
I THINK we all can agree that one lesson 2017 has taught us is simply: words matter. Especially those sent in a tweet or left on your Facebook wall! Now, I must say, I am sure I have said things I regret. In fact, I remember dropping a four-letter word in the dining room at my beloved Sizzler job, which led to my first ever invitation to leave work forever. (I still miss those all-you-can-eat shrimp days!) The verbiage we say to our patients also resonates.
I recall telling a newly diagnosed glaucoma patient that I needed to do his “aftercare” (that is New Zealand talk for follow-up) in four to six weeks. Now, I must admit my staff can oftentimes be overwhelmed and take what they hear for granted; so, when this patient told the front office staff I wanted him back in 46 weeks, they didn’t question this. Enunciation may be important as well.
A LICENSE TO DO SOMETHING, OR NOT
The relative importance of this word soup can also be supported in the way we tell patients what we need them to do. More specifically, I am referring to when you advise your patient about the treatment needed to obtain the desired outcome. If you are a doctor who is “recommending,” than might I suggest you try the liver! Recommending is tantamount to suggesting your patient make up his or her mind whether this is a desired treatment plan.
“I’LL SEE YOU IN FOUR TO SIX WEEKS.”
“I’LL SEE YOU IN 46 WEEKS.”
Let me put it this way: Do you go to a restaurant and ask the server (who you have never met, no idea his or her taste and or political affiliation), “What do you recommend?” I knew you did! So when he or she says, “I recommend the fish (that we can’t sell),” you are now at a Robert Frost cross road. This recommendation, a license to do something or not, should not be offered for medical treatment. Come on, people! If you want them to have pasta, then only provide pasta as a choice. You want your patients to do warm compresses, you wrap that up in a foil swan, and place it in their laps to go.
END THE “X TIMES A DAY” APPROACH TO TEARS
Can we talk about how we tell our patients to use artificial tears? Now, these necessary lubes create some comfort for about as long as a mint. So, let’s stop with the “use it X times a day.” Rather, let’s invite our patients to refresh their current inflamed chronic environment whenever they get the hankering. Have you ever wondered if when you recommend they use tears 4 times a day, whether they put them all in within 15 minutes? “All done!”
We have to use a lot of words in our job. So let’s make sure they matter. OM