How can physicians have a more positive impact on disabled people?

Are you disabled or chronically ill and have very bitter feelings towards your physician? It is not uncommon for people with disabilities or chronic illnesses to have bitter feelings towards their physician and to be honest, it saddens me. Good doctors do exist but some disabled people do not believe that because of countless bad experiences with physicians and no good ones so it can be difficult to have hope with finding a good doctor that listens and understands your condition. Annual checkups are so important in preventing medical problems but unfortunately, because some disabled people feel undervalued when going to the doctor they avoid making those appointments until it’s absolutely necessary! Creating a positive environment is just as important as it is to attend your appointments so here are a few ways that may help motivate your patient’s to make those appointments and actually keep them.

Get an accessible scale– Disabled people(especially physically disabled) cannot work out to the extent an abled person can if at all so they may not have the body confidence an abled person has and may be more self-conscious about their body weight. When you go to a doctor’s office and have to guess how much someone weighs it can put a huge toll on someone’s mental health. Not all disabled people will be bothered by this but the ones who are bothered by it may get depressed and may not be able to stop thinking about it the rest of the day.  If you can get an accessible scale for wheelchair users please do because when you are able to get a more accurate body weight it becomes easier for disabled people to feel good about themselves and gain confidence in their bodies!

Don’t talk down to your patients-  If you have any complexed diseases it can be difficult to find a doctor that listens and understands your condition and once you find one that sense of relief is something that I could not even begin to describe to you! When a disabled person goes to a doctor for the first time they may have been searching for months or even years so you may be their last hope at getting relief!  Talk to your patients and try to find an effective pain-management plan not at them because although you may be the expert on the condition your patients aren’t idiots and shouldn’t be treated in that way because that will only discourage them from wanting to return. Your patients know more about their condition than you think they do after all they are living with the condition!

Simplify your language- Have you ever gone to a doctor’s appointment and were very confused on what they were telling you because they were using too much medical terminology? Physicians remember your patients did not go to medical school and will not be familiar with most medical terminology. Simplify your language and use words that your patients can understand and if necessary draw pictures to help your patients understand what’s going!

Accessible exams rooms– One of the most stressful things about doctor’s offices is inaccessibility! If a wheelchair user cannot get into your exam rooms with ease than you better believe they are probably either not going to come back or are only going to come if they need something from you like a script or are very ill. Can a wheelchair user easily get in and out of the exam rooms? Can they turn around without hitting anything? If a person with a physical disability was asked would they be able to get on the exam table without difficulty? Anonymous surveys can be really helpful in getting feedback from actual disabled people and learn new ways on how you can make your business better and more accessible to the disabled community!

Talk to the disabled person, not their caregivers-  Talk to a disabled person themselves, not their caregivers! Most disabled people are just as capable at answering your questions as any abled person would be and when you ask their caregivers all the questions it upsets them and doesn’t make them feel included. If a disabled person is unable to speak for themselves or has difficulty answering your questions they will tell you otherwise speak to them directly. Caregivers aren’t the ones living with a disability and may not be able to explain the pain as well as a disabled person can because they have not personally experienced it. Talk to the disabled person directly to help you better understand what is going on so you can treat it!

Disabled people sometimes have to go to the doctor more than the average person and when your physician is not listening to you it can be stressful because finding a new doctor is not always an option. Our conditions are often times very complexed and the only people who can effectively treat these conditions are people who have specialized in these disabilities and those people can be hard to come by. Anyone else would not understand the complexities of our condition and would not be very helpful in treating it. I have been blessed with a fantastic medical team and my heart goes out to anyone who has not been blessed with this because yes they do exist it’s just a matter of seeking them out! If you have any questions about how physicians can have a positive impact on their patients please leave them in the comments below!

4 comments

  1. This is a great post! I have had doctors flat out shrug their shoulders at me when they seemed to run out of ideas. It can really impact the patient’s healing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Sarah, This is a very valuable and important post. For the most part, we had beyond excellent care for Adam, but there were some hiccups as he moved from the paediatric care to the adult world. Even in the “abled” world, one with complex care needs can have difficulty negotiating the medical system. This difficulty is 10 fold for people with disabilities. I think it is getting so much better because people with disabilities are living in the mainstream and younger doctors have experience with this population early on. Keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s