Doctor Visits

I confess to having white coat phobia. I do not like doctor’s offices, hospitals, or dentists.

Last week we I had to visit my nephrologist (a kidney doctor). I paid careful attention to how the staff communicated with me. First stop, the lady behind the desk–not good. She did not look up, and yelled for me through the window. The next person, the nurse who comes out and calls your name, did very well. She walked out into the waiting room, looked around, made eye contact, and called my name. The next nurse, taking my blood pressure and asking those pesky questions, also did very well. She sat about two feet from me, looked directly at me, and was easy to understand.

My nephrologist is from Russia, and I know accents can be problematic for many people. However, he speaks very clearly, also sat across from me, maintained eye contact, and did not seem to be in any kind of hurry. I would rate this visit as an overall positive communication experience.

In our local chapter meeting last week we discussed medical visits. People shared many positive experiences of medical personnel trying to do their best to help with communication issues. There were some negative experiences. These included talking to the friend or family member like the person with a hearing loss was not even in the room. Impatient doctors who seemed exasperated at having to repeat their instructions was another issue.

I also wonder how much is being missed in medical visits when the person with a hearing loss thinks they got the information, and the doctor thinks he or she communicated the information, but the person really missed something important. This is an important area for further discussion and research.


3 thoughts on “Doctor Visits

  1. I am sending your message to our folks with hearing loss. Even with our hearing aids and/or cochlear implants we still do not have perfect hearing. But so many of us are reluctant to ask a medical doctor to repeat and sometime they too are in rush. But first we must tell the doctor we have a hearing loss so they does not think we are not paying attention to him.

    My suggestion bring a pad and paper and if a word or sentence is not understood ask them to write it down. If they develop an attitude towards this small request it is time to find another doctor. I would think a medical doctor would want to be sure you understood his directions. All my doctors know I cannot hear well. HLAA gave me the confidence to admit my hearing loss to the hearing public.

  2. As sincere it seems to be on the part of the medical profession to accept ways to “communicate with Hard of hearing people” by having a booklet to show the ways…….it is not practical.

    In the medical profession (or any for that matter), dentist, doctor, lawyer, banker…one cannot assume he/ she knows the extent of your hearing loss and your needs. Some people do so well with a cochlear implant that they do not need to lip read. Yet others need more volume . I need the person to look at me so I can read lips, even with my two hearing aids.

    I remind all the above each time (in a nice way) that they need to accommodate me by looking at me.(and yes, it is on their records). If I do not understand, I ask them to repeat…. or more importantly, I repeat what I think I heard… to see if I heard it correctly!!!

    This is very important because how are we (with hearing loss )to know when we heard it wrong???!

    First thing I do it share again with the front desk, you need to come get me when you call my name…as I cannot hear well. I admit, once I sat till the last patient of the afternoon wa called only because I did not hear my name announced.

    If it is really crowded…in any situation, I find a friendly face , hopefully sitting next to me, and tell them my name and ask that if they hear it called, to please tell me. Many people do not mind at all. After all ,they can keep on reading the magazine while listening, while I have to stare intently for names being called.

    My dentist takes off his mask if he is about to perform another procedure, give me a shot…In other words, he tells me what is going on, then he puts the mask back on. It only takes a minute and makes for a calmer patient!

    However, my doctor is the worst……in a hurry, turns to write a prescription and tell me about it (I guess?) ..
    Now I just plain sit there, look at the ceiling and when she is all done talking ‘to the wall”…. I say, “you will have to repeat all of that once again as you know I read lips “.
    I do not care what she thinks of my request to repeat ,because my health is important to me (and should be to her too as I am her patient).

    But they are really just overwhelmed with the amount of patients they see each day….and do not mean harm.
    However, don’t take that chance of misinterpreting what they say. Write your questions down, check them off as you ask them and get answers. It is your right to know ! In some case they appreciate it…and mine sometimes puts my questions in her file.

    As many “laws” we have to protect us, stand up for us… is still our own responsibility to speak up for our needs. Nicely done, it can leave a good impression. With the amount of paperwork these days, no professional can read and then remember who needs this special accommodation.

    Just imagine repeating something totally wrong.such as a dosage amount…. imagine the look on the doctors face! Write the wrong amount on a check, and they all notice!!!! Remind them. They will appreciate it if they are a true professional.

    They are not mind readers and remember hearing loss is invisible. Make it visible!


    VIAGRA, CIALIS, PHENTERMINE, SOMA… and other pills!

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