October 07, 2011

The Four Types of Patients Seen in a Surgeon's Clinic

Over the years, I have found that patients can be loosely grouped into 4 different types. Nothing particularly wrong with any type, but it does help me to approach patients appropriately if I can get a sense of what type they are.

The four types are:

Type A:  If a surgery can "fix" or "cure" me such that I won't have to take medications every day of my life, than let's do it.

Type B: I will never consider surgery unless it is a life-threatening situation. If a medicine can help, why do it???

Type C: I will consider surgery only as a last resort when all else fails.

Type D: They thought they were Type B or C, but over time, they realize they are Type A.

Why is this important?

Because if a patient is Type B and surgery is recommended, the patient often develops an automatic distrust of the surgeon. The patient may see the surgeon as a "gun-slinger" who likes to cut people.

If a patient is Type A and the surgeon approaches them like Type B or C, such patients may come out of a visit quite disappointed and at worst, upset that the surgeon will not do what they want.

Ultimately, for a happy clinic encounter, a mutual understanding needs to quickly happen otherwise a mutual discord may snowball ultimately leading to a second opinion with another surgeon.

Of course, there is a more complex dynamic going on, but it's a good over-simplification.
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

1 comment:

Lisa LaMagna said...

Excellent article and right to the point. Knowing what your patient's expect -- in their world -- is an important place to begin discussions.

I also think knowing your patient's behavioral biases is equally important.

Thank you, enjoying your blog very much.

Banner Map

Pediatric Neck Masses

Adult Neck Mass Workup