Of what use is the best diagnosis if the patient:
Does not learn the results?
Does not understand the results?
Does not understand the necessary consequences?
This aspect of the patient-physician relationship is one of great importance. It is, however, not different from other misunderstandings in human relationships. As physicians we often assume too hastily that our explanations have been understood. If the patient does not follow our advice, we react with disappointment, anger or resignation. From the physician's point of view, what can the patient do to improve this situation? First of all, you, the patient, must ask questions in order to understand the findings of the examination. It is likely that you must overcome various inhibitions such as fear of being obtrusive, of being turned away, or being told that the physician is too busy, or of appearing stupid if you cannot understand the explanation offered. Perhaps your physician is not fully aware of your interest in understanding your own disease. If this is the case, it may be possible for him to discuss the findings of the examination with you after his office hours. You would perhaps be well-advised to acquaint yourself with medical terminology and insights before your consultation by reading a book such as this one.
The following story may help you to overcome your fears and to ask additional questions when you do not understand the explanations. Several years ago, the author was walking with a patient who was also a tax consultant, and who had recently sustained a heart attack. For two hours the tax consultant patiently tried to explain to the doctor the nature of her tax return, while she listened attentively but was unable to understand the explanations. After a while the roles were reversed and the doctor tried to explain to the tax consultant what caused his heart attack, what it meant, and why he should undertake certain steps as a remedy. Both noticed after a while they had fallen silent and were walking next to each other perplexed. The tax consultant was the first to admit that he had not understood the detailed and interesting account his physician had presented. He felt the doctor had attempted to inform him of something very important, but it was impossible for him to understand the explanations since they were expressed in medical terminology. So they began again and each tried to explain to the other as a teacher would explain new material to a student with greater attention to the other's abilities and experiences. Thus the conversation came to a happy conclusion.
Cardio & Blood