If your doctor isn’t paying attention to your medical concerns – maybe you aren’t using the right language. Dr. Cam Patterson is the director of cardiology at the University of North Carolina, and he says doctors are extremely busy, so they tend to connect certain symptoms to certain problems. So to break through those barriers, you need to be concise and specific. So try these ‘red flag’ phrases to get your doctor’s attention:
- Like using the word “new”, as in “I have a constant new pain.” Why does that work? Because a new pain, particularly one that’s frequent, can be a sign that something’s seriously wrong. If that’s your main problem, stay focused on it. Dr. Patterson says you don’t want to confuse matters by talking about more than one problem at a time.
- Another ‘red flag’ for doctors – pinpointing exactly where the pain is – as in “Right here, about two inches to the right of my belly button.” The more precise you can be, the easier it’ll be for your doctor to make a diagnosis.
- The next way to get your doctor’s attention – use strong adjectives, as in “a stabbing pain” or “pretty severe.” Those are words that’ll grab your doctor by his lapels. “Severe,” “blunt,” “numbing,” and “stabbing.”
- Also, be able to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10 for your doctor. As in, “my pain right now is at about 6 out of 10. At night, it gets as bad as 8.” Giving a severity score provides your doctor with a concrete idea of how it feels. That’ll also help during follow-up visits – because your doctor will be able to judge whether medications or therapy is working.
- And the final way to get your doctor’s attention: Tell him what you can’t do. As in, “I can’t raise my arms without pain.” Or “I can’t breathe in deeply without stabbing pain.” If you used to be able to do something and now you can’t, your doctor will immediately understand how debilitating your problem is and he’ll act accordingly.