Helping Patients Feel Comfortable Sharing Concerns About Meds

Mar 05, 2017

“The swing of a sword cannot cut the mist from the sky.”

Li He, Tang Dynasty
from The Book of Chinese Proverbs

Helping Patients Feel Comfortable Sharing Concerns About Meds

TISA Description of the Problem: Sometimes patients, especially new patients, have assumptions that the prescribing clinician whether physician, nurse clinician, physician’s assistant, or clinical pharmacist has a vested interest in a specific med. Other assumptions may be that we are not interested in hearing about side-effects or issues of inconvenience with regard to dosing schedules. It is critical to make sure that patients are aware that we are very interested in any of their medication concerns. We are there to help them find the medication that works best for them, and that they feel comfortable taking. Naturally, it is very important to share such information about our ongoing interest directly. In addition, various comments can help patients feel more comfortable sharing medication concerns. The following tip by Amanda Holmes is just such a reassuring comment, that can help open the door to fruitful discussion.

Tip: Many patients have gone through the frustration of various meds not working out. If I notice that a patient looks disappointed about a new med we are trying, but they seem hesitant to “bad mouth it” (perhaps because they feel I don?t’ want to hear any complaints), there are several comments that might help the patient express himself or herself more freely. One of my personal favorites is the following, “You know, what we want is better, not just different. If we just get different, then we have to take another look at our plan.”

TISA Follow-up: This is a delightful tip, and it works! With just two simple sentences, the clinician has helped to create a sense of true team work and common interest.

Tip provided by:

Amanda Holmes, M.D.
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
DePaul Psychiatric Center/Providence Clinic
Waco, Texas

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