One of the common topics we’ve discussed many times here is the uneasiness and frustration we feel with our diabetes doctors and other professionals like dietitians and educators. We all have our gripes and I’ve certainly written rants about mine.
Stacey Simms, the Diabetes Connections podcaster, recently interviewed Steve Edelman, endocrinologist, founder of the Taking Control Of Your Diabetes (TCOYD) conferences and T1D (type 1 diabetic) as well. People with type 1, type 2, their loved ones, and diabetes health care professional all attend TCOYD conferences. They often have separate conference tracks that they attend but some presentations are done as one large group.
Steve commented that one of the favorite parts of his one day conferences is when patients, loved ones and health care professionals are gathered together. The facilitator then tells the group that for the next 20 minutes only patients will be allowed to speak. They are instructed to answer the question, “What do your diabetes health care professionals do that drives you crazy?” Only negative comments are allowed.
The Steve Edelman interview starts at 32:13.
Dr. Edelman sumarizes that patients complain about how little time they are allocated and some are only allowed to bring up one problem. They’re irritated by the criticism that they don’t check their blood sugar often enough or get labeled as non-compliant.
After that provocative 20-minute session ends (how can they fit that into 20 minutes??!), the doctors and other health care professionals are then challenged to answer the question, “What do your diabetes patients do that drive you crazy?”
The doctors, dietitians and educators let it rip with comments that patients often don’t show up to their appointments (moreso with dietitians and educators than with doctors), don’t know what medications they’re taking, lie about their glucose records, and fail to take ownership of their diabetes.
I think we need more of this kind of conversation. I don’t feel my doctors have acted like the natural health care allies that they are.
One of my biggest gripes is the unthinking and reflexive reaction my doctor will make about severe hypoglycemia risk based on an A1c number alone. Or they see a small percentage of CGM (continuous glucose monitor) data below range and jump to the conclusion that my risk of severe hypoglycemia is too high and I should therefore aim for a higher glucose average, long term complications be damned.
I write on this topic knowing the challenges clinicians face, including limited time and having the administrative burden exceed patient face-to-face time. I also realize that some doctors can overcome these embedded hurdles and still provide great care using enlightened communication. I acknowledge that these exemplary doctors exist but I think they are too few.
What drives you crazy about your doctor/health care professional relationship? What do you think we, as patients, can do to nudge that relationship in a better direction?