I am continually boggled between what I recall saying to my patients and what they remember. Now, I am a person who tries to be conscious about using easy-to-understand language. I try to explain any big words that I use, and not give abnormal lab results in scientific language. Lately I have been pondering the seemingly insurmountable task of effectively educating the patients. Here are some recent statements from patients that left me thinking “Hmmm, they don’t really get it, do they?”:
- “The doctor told me the medicine (hydrochlorothiazide) was for my cholesterol! He said it would make me pee more and then I would pee out all of my cholesterol.”–from a man who was incredulous that HCTZ was in fact for blood pressure
- “So…the crack cured my diabetes?” –from a formerly obese woman who lost 150 lbs due to a crack addiction. The crack also cured her high cholesterol and high blood pressure, apparently.
- “Do you think the crack cured my abnormal pap, too?”–the same woman, shortly after being told that the crack had not actually cured her diabetes
- “The stomach test was abnormal.”–This statement was made to a GI specialist a mere 3 days after I had a long conversation about the patient’s gastric motility study that involved the words “Your test was normal. Yes, it was really normal.”
- “The last lady who did my pap smear said that I have an extra hole in my vagina.”–from a woman who had a polyp protruding from her cervical os (incidentally, the woman no-showed for her GYN consult 2 years ago to follow up on this)
- “The doctor at the emergency room told me to take 800mg of ibuprofen every 3 hours, and 400mg whenever I needed it if I still had pain.”–This statement, by a 68 year-old woman, was immediately followed by my recommendation to have some kidney function tests done.
- “I thought I was taking the antibiotics that you gave me, but I was actually taking my pain pills that I had in the cabinet! Ha ha! I just figured it out this morning!”–from a patient that I was seeing for a 7-day follow up for cellulitis
I have been trying to write my instructions down, and have even gone so far as to draw illustrations for my patients who can’t read. I feel like I’m carrying on a proud NP tradition of patient-centered care, but I’m not really sure if it is having any beneficial effects. sigh. At least it’s funny.