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.