The Inkfish blog has a guest post by Amy Savage, a woman who is a professional fake patient — somebody hired to act out an office visit and help medical students learn how to both diagnose patients and treat them well. (You may remember this from the episode of Seinfeld when Kramer and Mickey pretended to have gonorrhea and cirrhosis.)
What you don't pick up from that pop culture portrayal, but that is clear in Savage's essay, is that learning how to ask questions is a huge part of this training exercise. Savage is supposed to provide the medical students with information — but that information might be incomplete or seriously skewed if the students don't ask the right questions, or ask the right questions in the wrong way.
I am expected to give specific, memorized lines about my symptoms, but only if the students ask the right questions in the right way. For example, if a student asks if I use tobacco, that is different from asking if I use or have ever used tobacco products. Asking a woman if she has ever been pregnant is different from asking if she has any children. And, of course, those types of oversights in questioning can lead to different diagnoses.
From this experience, I have learned what to expect from an ideal physician, what to ask, and what not to tolerate. For example, your doctor should not ask leading (or possibly judgmental) questions such as, “You don’t smoke, right?” Nor should they run off a list of questions such as, “Do you smoke, drink, or use drugs?” without giving you time to think. They should ask open-ended questions: “Have you noticed any other changes lately?”
I've also learned that it's important to pay attention to symptoms that may seem unrelated to your chief complaint. If you were experiencing extreme fatigue, for example, you might not think that your newly brittle hair had anything to do with your energy levels, but it could be a thyroid problem.
Texas State University’s Body Farm (AKA Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University or FACTS) is a 45-year-old facility where the corpses of medical body donors are left to decompose so that researchers can observe the rate at which human remains are consumed by the elements, scavengers and microbes, allowing them to accurately date the […]
A better understanding how a sperm swims its way toward an egg could help inform new treatments for male infertility. Researchers from the University of York have now come up with a mathematical formula to model how large numbers of moving sperm interact with fluid they’re swimming through. From the University: By analysing the head […]
Dr Gale Ridge is a public entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, where an average of 23 people a day call, write or visit; an increasing proportion of them aren’t inquiring about actual insects, they’re suffering from delusional parasitosis, and they’re desperate and even suicidal.
When you can’t wait for the world’s longest meeting to end, the mindless leg bouncing makes your boredom obvious and just annoys everybody else. Everyone knows the TPS reports need the damn cover sheet, but some sadistic colleague keeps forgetting, probably on purpose just to eat into your lunch hour. Enough is enough!While serving a […]
What could be more fun than a slingshot that shoots tiny airplanes? A slingshot that shoots tiny glowing airplanes of course! These toy planes are outfitted with ultra-bright LEDs, so you can fly all night without losing them in the trees.Whether you are a regular-sized child, or an overgrown adult one, these light-up flyers offer […]
You know the drill. You go to the dentist and they ask you how often you floss. You lie through your teeth and say, “every day!” (Bonus points if you have some cilantro or chives stuck in your gums from lunch). You don’t want to keep up the charade any longer, but rubbing that tiny strand […]