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Top 10 Mistakes Patients Make that Nurses Should Watch Out For Part I

We’ve all been patients who have done one of these things, or as a nurse you’ve probably seen these things one hundred times. These are the stupid things that patients do that hinder getting the best care possible at the doctor’s office. As a medical assistant or LVN student, it’s important to know what to look for to ensure that patients are getting the help they need.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent has written an interesting article on CNN.com that tells patients what they are doing wrong at the doctor’s office. I think it’s just as important for nurses to know how patients are sabotaging themselves so that they can get around these obstacles.

1. Cell phone use – All of the doctor’s offices that I have gone to recently (three if you’re wondering) have signs posted that say “Please turn off your cell phone.” Doctors are busy and although they make us wait, wasting their time only prolongs other patient’s waiting time. Plus in my opinion, it’s rude regardless of if you’re in a hospital or at Starbucks. If someone is ready to help you, give them your full attention.

2. Lying– Here is my lie. I’m ready to confess. I have fibromyalgia and my doctor always asks if I’m exercising and stretching every day. “Yes, but not as much as I should,” I say. Does cracking my neck while I type on my laptop count as stretching?

3. Patients do a bad job describing their pain – Fortunately, most doctors offices have paperwork for a patient to fill out and on it there is a list of adjectives and a drawing of a body for patient’s to mark where their pain is located. Cohen has a good idea that patients should also keep a journal the week before their visit to track exactly when and where their pain is felt.

4. Patients don’t state all the reasons for their visit – I don’t like to complain and I don’t want to seem like I’m whining, so listing all of my ailments seems self deprecating. Isn’t that stupid? That’s why I go to the doctor, but I always just list my top two concerns.

5. Patients don’t express their expectations for the visit – Coehn writes, “If you have certain hopes or expectations — the doctor will pop that sty in your eye or prescribe antibiotics for your sore ear — say so. The doctor can then explain if your expectations are realistic, and you’ll be happier in the end.
“Sometimes patients are out of proportion to what the reality is, like the 44-year-old woman who hopes to get pregnant in one IVF cycle,” says Dr. Jamie Grifo, program director of the New York University Fertility Center. “If they don’t communicate patients’ expectations, then I can’t address them.”

So I only got halfway through the list. If you are in a Medical Assistant or LVN program in the San Francisco Bay Area, look for the next post that completes this list. Once you know what inconsistencies you’re patients are bringing to the table, you’ll know what to look for and how better to help them.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit