We Asked a Doctor How to Talk So That They'll Listen
But too often, doctors take a more hurried approach in the name of efficiency: Ofri cites a study that found that doctors typically interrupted their patients 12 seconds after they started talking. Yet according to other research, the average person takes a mere 92 seconds to sum up why they're in the office. "Doctors need to stop talking, turn away from the computer, and give patients one to two minutes of full-frontal listening," Ofri says. "If yours isn't doing that, don't be afraid to speak up." How to assert yourself when you're sitting on a table in a paper gown? We asked Ofri, who's also an attending physician at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, for her best Rx.
O: What's the most tactful way to let my doctor know I still had more to say when he interrupted me?
Danielle Ofri: A gentle reminder can actually be very helpful for us. If a patient says, "Do you mind if I just finish what I was saying?" I usually respond with something like, "Sure. Oh, wow, I shouldn't have cut you off."
O: How much information should I give the doctor?
DO: Before your visit, choose two or three concerns you want to discuss. If you have more, write them all down and show them to your doctor at the beginning of the appointment so you can decide together what's most important to discuss today and what may need to wait until next time. Try to cover the bases without getting bogged down in unnecessary details, which can waste time.