Just how demanding can we be before we blow it?
Hilda Bastian argues that assertive, articulate patients who swallow up doctors time with their lists of questions are increasing health inequalities by leaving needier patients waiting
I dont remember exactly how I learned to be a “good patient.” I cant remember which was more powerful-the examples of my mothers behaviour and that of others in the waiting room or hospital, or the instructions to “Be good, to not complain about pain, to not take too much of these important peoples time. I do remember learning clearly that part of being “good” at the doctors was to say whatever he or she wanted to hear. At the doctors, it wasnt lying-it was making a good impression, and that was what mattered. It mattered especially at the hospital-you had to make sure they liked you, so you got better care and didnt wait so long. We were a family of “lower socioeconomic status” and “non-English speaking background,” and the most important thing was to nod and say “Yes, doctor” no matter how mystified you were-and no matter how