“If you listen long enough, the patient will give you the answer.”
Sir William Osler

Have you ever said (or heard) the words: “I told you several times, but you did not listen”? There is a distinct difference between hearing – and listening. To hear something is to perceive sound – your brain acknowledges the sound something is making. But to listen is a wilfull act. To listen is to concentrate on, to give attention to, the sound.

When we are not getting answers to our health issues, we are so quick to blame doctors for not listening. No doubt, more often than not, they rely more on their training, experience and medical guidelines and less on what we say to come to a diagnosis (or lack thereof); but I am learning that we as patients need to become better communicators.

When doctors suggest that I am not as sick as I say I am, I tend to minimize my own symptoms, and in doing so, I limit the amount of information the doctors will actually receive. Listening falls to them – but ensuring they hear my concerns fully and completely – well, that falls to me.

Below is a cut from an article written about Neurological Lyme Assessment by Dr. Robert Bransfield. I have no doubt been challenging the medical capabilities of my doctors. Of critical importance is ensuring they are armed with the best information (about me) as possible so they can make sound clinical judgements. I also need to recognize when they are relying on “medical cookbooks” to treat me; and to take action in the best interest of my own health. Just another reminder that doctors are just people.

In His Grip

The Neuropsychiatric Assessment of Lyme Disease
Robert Bransfield, M.D

When a credible patient describes a symptom that challenges our medical capability, it is an error to assume without the proper supporting evidence that they are lying, delusional, or hypochondriacal.

In an effort to create predictability, reliance upon cookbook medicine has given us a recipe for disaster.

Algorithms should be viewed as teaching tools and very rough guidelines, but should never be given more significance than a detailed thorough exam and sound clinical judgment.

We, as physicians, owe it to our patients to always retain our courage and never defer our sound clinical judgment to dictatorial guidelines.


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