Cleveland Francis, M.D.: Patient-doctor communication is key to success
Woodbrige, VA (December 2011) – Batman and Robin. Starsky and Hutch. Laverne and Shirley. True partners stay together through thick and thin and handle sticky situations with grace and ease.
How do they do it? The key is communication. The patient-doctor relationship can be both personal and emotional, and communicating your needs, symptoms and expectations are paramount to the success of your first visit and future care. Diagnosis depends on good descriptions
“Describing your symptoms and medical history in detail is very important for an accurate diagnosis,” explains Cleveland Francis, M.D., a cardiologist on Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center's medical staff and member of the Sentara Heart and Vascular Center team.
“As a cardiologist, I see a lot of patients who complain of chest pain, but the description ‘chest pain’ is too broad. It’s important for a patient to come to the doctor ready to give a detailed account of pain, symptoms, timing and history.”
According to Dr. Francis, this involves an organized patient and a physician willing to listen. What your doctor needs to know
“With cardiology, in particular, it’s helpful for the patient to describe the character of the pain,” says Dr. Francis. “The more thorough the description the better, such as squeezing, sharp, dull, ache, pressure, etc. Plus, the location is also important -- left or right side of the chest, in the middle of the sternum, in the stomach area or the back.”
According to Dr. Francis you should also be ready to answer these questions: What relieves the pain? How long does the pain last? What are the associated symptoms when having the pain? What’s the duration of the pain? Is this occurring for the first time or has this happened before?
“If a patient can answer all of those questions, a listening doctor can in most cases arrive at a good tentative diagnosis of the patient’s problem and may only need minimal testing to arrive at a conclusive diagnosis,” says Dr. Francis.
Dr. Francis also recommends that patients provide a list of all current medications and a detailed family medical history -- especially of parents and siblings.
Dr. Cleveland Francis is president of Mount Vernon Cardiology Associates, located in The Potomac Center on the campus of Northern Virginia Medical Center. His interests aren’t limited to cardiology -- he’s also a former national country music recording artist and still enjoys a local music career.
The Sentara Heart and Vascular Center at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center opened in May 2011 and offers residents in our community the option of receiving cardiovascular care closer to home, including interventional cardiac catheterization and other procedures to treat heart and vascular diseases.
To reach our goal of providing an exceptional patient and family experience, we incorporated patient feedback into the design and operational development of Sentara Heart and Vascular Center.
To see the Sentara Heart and Vascular Center first hand, take a guided tour