Have You Been Told You’re a “Difficult” Patient?

By on March 9th, 2016 Categories: The Breast Cancer Journey

I care for many patients diagnosed with breast cancer, and they’re often accompanied by family or friends. Some of my patients are so invested in their care that they bring me stacks of research studies about their treatment options, along with many questions. And some are more well-versed in their healthcare rights than I am. Maybe this describes you. Are you the kind of patient who doesn’t hesitate to raise your voice if something doesn’t seem quite right with your care or your medical records? Are you a person who doesn’t let anything go until it’s resolved? Then you may have been told at some point in your care that you’re a “difficult patient” — that you’re a challenge, that you bring too many issues and questions to the table, that your medical team has to brace themselves when you arrive for your visit.

If you’re a “difficult patient,” I’m grateful. You make me work harder to stay acutely aware of my patients’ situations and needs. You inspire me to do my job more effectively every day.

I’m sharing a speech I gave on this subject at a cancer survivors’ night last year. And if you consider yourself a “difficult patient,” share your story in the comments below!

Brian S. Wojciechowski, M.D. joined the Breastcancer.org team as medical adviser in July 2012. He specializes in the care of patients with cancer and practices medical oncology in Delaware County, Pennsylvania at Riddle, Taylor, and Crozer Hospitals. A proud native of South Philadelphia, he trained at Temple University School of Medicine and Lankenau Medical Center. His research has been presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, the world's largest scientific meeting on breast cancer. Dr. Wojciechowski is a sought-after speaker on the topics of medical ethics and the biology of cancer. Beyond medicine, he is devoted to his faith, his family, and his guitar. He sees cancer as a scientifically complex disease with unique psychological, social, and spiritual dimensions, a perspective he takes into relationships with patients.

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