Dr Sreenivas Meenakshisundaram, MBBS, MD (Internal Medicine), DM (Neurology), currently works as a Consultant Neurologist at MGM Healthcare, Chennai. His expertise lies in stroke, movement disorders and vertigo.
When a patient explains to you about their health problems, what are the most common mistakes they make in their communication?
A common error in patient communication is the tendency to initially present a barrage of previous reports, potentially leading to high chances of misleading assessment by the doctor. Additionally, patients often use generic medical terms interchangeably, causing confusion, instead of utilizing simpler, more precise layperson’s language. Another challenge arises when patients persistently adhere to the advice of a previous doctor, limiting their openness to the possibility that the current consultant may offer a different perspective.
What does health literacy mean to you, and why is it important in patient care?
Being aware of common medical conditions can save a lot of time and effort for the doctors since it makes the job of explaining the disease and the prognosis and treatment easier. Health literacy is being aware of what the diagnosis being given is, and the willingness to educate themselves about it.
If a patient is knowledgeable about the basics of their health condition, how helpful is it for the overall treatment procedure?
A clear knowledge of the health condition helps massively in the process of communication with the doctor. The doctor can focus on discussing the treatment options and how each can help them, rather than being stuck in trying to convince them of the diagnosis.
How much can medical misinformation impact treatment procedures?
Medical misinformation can influence treatment decisions as patients may reject a recommended treatment due to a few negative reports or insist on a particular treatment, even when the doctor may not recommend it, based on anecdotes of someone they know experiencing improvement with the same treatment.
What are the most common myths or misinformation you see your patients falling prey to?
Taking too many tablets can lead to nerve damage. A belief that chronic degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease can be cured by native treatment or homoeopathy. Unwillingness to accept a diagnosis of epilepsy or a genetic condition and believing that this is just a passing phase.
What is your most common advice to patients to stay away from health misinformation online?
I advise my patients that they refrain from sourcing health information on social media and instead focus on reputable websites affiliated with well-established foundations and societies. They must consult with experts before forming conclusions about any health condition.
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