Take off your scrub hats for a moment. Sit back in your office chair and ask yourself an important question. Can you honestly ask your patient a question and get an accurate response in this tricky situation? Whether it is drugs, alcohol, abuse, or something else, you know there is something not quite right. Yet, questioning them may send them looking for another provider and it may put them further at risk. So, how can you question people in a positive way and get accurate information?
Show Genuine Interest First
Ensuring the patients or individual that you really do care about them is an important first step in any situation like this. You need to communicate that you have the best intentions. By spending time talking to the individual and getting to know them, you can form even a small bond. That can give you the "bridge" you need to ask questions that may be hard to hear.
Tell Them Why You Are Asking
In some situations, you have to ask questions for medical reasons or by law. In other cases, you need to know the real answer so you can make an important diagnosis. Be frank with the patient in these situations. Before you snap on those surgical caps, you need to have all of the information possible. Explain this to the patient. Let them know how important it is for you to have accurate information right now.
Tell Them It's Okay
Sometimes people cannot answer questions because they feel you will look down on them. In other cases, they feel that they've lied previously and they cannot back down now. Reassure the individual that no matter what has happened, you will help them and not judge them.
It can also help to put a positive spin on any question you have to ask. Saying, "I have to rule this out," is better than asking a direct question that can scare the individual. Be open and honest with every person you speak with. That's the best way to ensure they are going to be open and honest with you, too.