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Don’t capitalize on informal encounters with doctors

Majority of encounters with your doctor tend to occur in their offices, and that’s how it should be. But it isn’t unusual for you to stumble upon your doctor in a myriad of places. It might be in a social gathering of mutual interest, in shopping malls, in restaurants, or in other public places. As many doctors will tell you, it is fairly common for people to take advantage of informal encounters and solicit unwanted mini consults.

It’s best not to ever try to take advantage of accidental encounters with doctors. The doctor may already know you as a longterm patient, and may well remember your medical details. But out there, your doctor is wearing a different hat. They may be out there to wind down, cool their nerves, and generally shut their brains off from medical matters. You are allowed to say a quick hello, and then keep your distance. You shouldn’t ever nag them with medical queries.

But you may have a different view about chance encounters with a doctor you are already familiar with. Surely, you could seek advice on a new symptom that is bothering you. Or ask for a recommendation about your kin or buddies who aren’t in the best of health. After all, doctors should always be ready to lend a helping hand, whether formally or informally. Surely asking a question or two in an informal setting isn’t such a big deal?

Well, you would be wrong. When your doctor is out there, they have other things on their mind. The last thing they want is to be engaged in a consult of some kind. Or to be pulled into an unwanted medical chit chat. Out there, many doctors will shift their focus onto whatever activities they have chosen to engage in. And many won’t also want to be engaged in social trivialities as well. They just want to be left alone, and remain somewhat incognito. Until they are back into their offices.

It’s best to maintain an impersonal attitude whenever you informally stumble upon your doctor. Seeing them may trigger your memory about a medical issue that’s been nagging you recently. But don’t bother the doctor with any of that stuff. It can wait till your next formal appointment. If it was that urgent, you should surely have sought help earlier, or you should have simply made your way to a medical emergency centre. If you get an irresistible urge to ask something, remember the doctor has the liberty to just ignore you. Or gently remind you to phone the office for the next available appointment.

Don’t take it personally if you find your doctor snobbish in informal settings. They are simply trying to maintain their professional standing, and partly keeping away from potential inappropriate liaisons.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist. amurage@mygyno.co.ke

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