I received a nice compliment the other day. A patient reminded me how I remembered the other issues she had going on from previous visits and asked her about them when I walked into the room. To her it showed trust and credibility and she really liked me because of that. It was very nice and affirming. My ego ate it up. Now, did I actually remember her backstory? I may have but the odds are that I probably didn’t. What I do, however, is try to preview someone’s chart before I walk into the room. This is a tough habit to create but it is totally worth it. Those minutes reading what you did with the patient on the last visit or two can mean the world to them as evidenced by my patient story above. It also can prevent you from looking like an idiot and confabulating. How many times has a patient asked you, “Remember last time when I (blank)?” and you answered, “Of course” and then proceeded to:
- Rack your brain for an answer
- Bullshit your way through the whole conversation just praying that something will tickle your memory
- Feel uncomfortable the whole visit praying they don’t call you out on your charade
I have been there and done this so many times over the past twenty years that I can’t even count them anymore. It still happens, but rarely, when I get rushed and I fall into the same trap. It’s embarrassing and it’s bad medicine. But I try and I recommend you do the same. Take the two minutes OUT OF THE ROOM and prepare yourself be previewing the chart. You may even get a compliment out of it someday.