Consulting with a prosthetist who doesn’t seem to listen can be frustrating. Every appointment feels like a race—as if you only have a few minutes to share your concerns. You go through your "punch list" of issues, and you’re not quite sure if your prosthetist understands what you’re trying to communicate.
Your harried and distracted prosthetist might jump in at any minute, and he or she might lead you off track. Next thing you know, your prosthetist has already formed a conclusion from the list of issues you recited and is now moving toward discussing solutions.
Of course, this is not typical of all consultations, however you would be surprised at how many do follow this script. Research shows that most complaints filed against prosthetists and healthcare professionals, in general, have nothing to do with their medical skills. Patients are mostly complaining about poor communication.
This is why establishing an emotional connection between a patient and prosthetist is essential. Building rapport is the best way to ensure that your concerns are clearly understood.
What if you’re consulting with a new prosthetist, or you’ve been going to the same one for years, but the connection still isn’t there?
Below are some things that you can do.
Prepare a list of your concerns
Write down any questions related to your concern before your next appointment. Doing this ensures that you know what you want to talk about and avoid getting sidetracked by a random comment.
What’s even better than a list is to prepare your health story. According to most healthcare professionals, a list of symptoms may not be enough to accurately diagnose a patient. Studies show that over 80% of diagnoses can be made simply by listening to a patient’s story, rather than asking a list of yes or no questions.
If you want your prosthetist to check why your prosthesis feels uncomfortable, don’t merely tell them that your prosthesis is painful. Give them more information by telling a story. When did it start? What were you doing when you felt uncomfortable? Is the discomfort consistently present, or do you only notice it after a particular activity? Telling your story will help clear things up for your prosthetist.
Ask open-ended questions
Don’t ask yes or no questions, and don’t wait for your prosthetist to ask you questions. Go ahead and tell him or her what worries you. “Can you help me understand X?” is a great question that would keep the conversation flowing between you and your prosthetist.
However, if you don’t feel heard, you need to speak up. Tell your prosthetist you are worried that possibly he/she is not understanding what you're trying to communicate. There could be a lot of factors preventing your prosthetist from understanding your concerns or communicating to you that he/she does not understand.
They may not be aware of how you are feeling. Telling your prosthetist how you feel will help him/her become more aware and proactive.
Bring a friend or family member
Bringing a friend or family member to your next appointment will help ensure that you won’t miss any details. He/she may also ask a question you have not thought about.
Communication goes both ways. The burden is not always on the prosthetist; it’s on you as well. When some people consult their prosthetists about an issue, they leave out crucial details.
While you may think that you can leave out some details, which you’re ashamed of or feel is not important, your prosthetist needs to hear the whole story to fully understand any prosthetic issues.
This part requires building a rapport with your prosthetist, so you feel comfortable telling them anything.
Wrap up the consultation
Before leaving your prosthetist’s clinic, we recommend repeating the key points of your consultation and what your next steps are. You may say, “Before I leave, I want to make sure I got everything right. Here’s what you need me to do.” This ensures that you are both on the same page.
If there is a communication problem, the best thing you can do is fix it. Give your prosthetist the benefit of the doubt. However, if you already did everything you can and cannot fix the communication issue, it’s time to find a prosthetist you can trust.
What do you think of the tips above? Let us know if you have additional tips and suggestions.