Do you ever have a difficult time telling your patients the truth?

By Dr. Russ Rosen | Patient Care

I was having a conversation with a doctor the other day who was having a challenge just telling the patients her truth.

She said that when it came to things like telling the patient how much care she thinks they really need or asking for referrals or a whole host of other things, she was really having a tough time.

The last thing she wanted her patients to think is that she is in it for the money.

Now the truth of the matter is this: I have had this same conversation with many doctors over the years. It may be about telling the patient what they need to get to a certain level of health, or asking for referrals. It may be telling the patient that if they really want this to resolve they will need to eat better, or deal with stress or get some exercise. It could be telling patients that if they don’t make certain changes like their frequency of care they really are not going to get the results that they want etc.

Now when it comes to different types of doctors it usually comes down to being more “Assertive” or “Non-Assertive”

In general, the “Assertives” may err on the side of overstating the seriousness of the patient’s problem, they may be prone to using “patient scare” tactics as they are “truly in the patient’s best interests.” They will often times use persuasion and high pressure sales techniques to get the patient to do what they want them to do, as they love the conquest.

The “Non-Assertives” may be seen as easy going, peaceful, unassuming, humble and even meek. Above all else these people want to be liked by other people and they want to be seen as a good, honest and truthful person. They are sensitive to rejection and combined with the desire to be liked; these people usually downplay the seriousness of their patient’s condition. They error on the side of telling the patient not to worry, that things are going to be ok. The doctor most often does not tell the patient the truth about how much care they need and how much it is going to cost. They are evasive and even cheery during the examination and R.O.F., the last thing they want is to use any of those “patient scare” tactics that many of the other doctors use.

If you are interested in a very detailed article on this subject, you can download it here. 

Regardless of which type of behavioral style you are the thing I have found works is to remember this single concept. Regardless of your behavioral style it is about THEM it is not about YOU!

We need to get out of our own way and just tell the truth and consequences of their choices. Patients are here because they want help. We owe it to them to them the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth WITH ABSOLUTELY NO CHARGE!

As long as you remember that simple concept, and keep your patients best interests at heart you will be amazed at how much easier it is to tell them the truth in a way they can hear it.

As always hope that helps. Love to hear your thoughts.

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