By Sabina Mollot
Dr. Danielle Ofri, PhD, MD, a Kips Bay resident and Bellevue Hospital doctor who’s authored four nonfiction books, has just released her fifth, on the need for better communication between patient and doctor.
The book was inspired by a number of her own patients’ inability to tell someone else what their concerns are coupled with doctors’ habits of not listening as carefully as they should.
She gave one example of how after a while she began tuning out a patient “who was very demanding of my time,” Ofri said. He’d annoy her by leaving multiple, angry messages on her answering machine demanding to see her right away. His habit of panicking and the constant messages wore on Ofri, and while she knew he had a bad heart, she was surprised when one day he actually collapsed in her office.
“He was nervous about his heart and the terror of dying animated him,” she said. “I’m hearing obnoxious and angry demands and was not recognizing his fear of death,” Ofri admitted.
This example is mentioned in the book, What Patients Say; What Doctors Hear ($25, $24 as an e-book).
Ofri, who’s worked at Bellevue for 20 years, said often patients are too embarrassed to discuss their deeper concerns with their doctor like the real reasons they’re not taking their prescribed medication. Affordability is often, though not always a factor.
“Patients are very shy about saying it costs too much or they’re splitting it in half or there’s an eating disorder or domestic violence.”