Patients usually see an eye doctor once a year, which means they are NOT consciously thinking about their eye health the other 364 days of the year. Their lives are busy and they don’t think about eye exams (like you do on a daily basis), so it’s important that doctors and staff realize patients will come with many questions about what they need to do in an eye exam and what this whole ‘dilation’ thing entails.
The best place to start educating or re-educating your patients is when they make the appointment. Your front desk staff should work basic explanations into the conversation when they are scheduling the appointment. Your front desk staff should also open up the discussion to patients so that the best appointment time can be set. For example, if a patient works on the computer all day long, doing an eye exam that requires dilation in the middle of the day will disrupt the workday. If patients don’t have this explained to them, they’ll likely become irritated. After all, the appointment could have been scheduled later in the afternoon or even on a weekend. It’s a simple conversation that needs to happen when the appointment is made.
Education at the appointment
Because there are many different ways to explore the health of an eye, dilation is not the only choice for some patients. Proper explanation of a patient’s options is important, especially if there are different costs associated with these options. Again, education is of utmost importance here so that patients feel like they are being treated with respect.
Education at the end
If dilation has been done, educate your patients on what to expect. How long will the dilation last? What type of vision will be impaired? What concerns should they call your office about? What type of protection should they wear on their eyes after dilation? Remember, just because someone was dilated a few years ago, or even last year, that doesn’t mean that they will remember everything. You may feel like a broken record because you say the same thing to multiple patients, but this is the one time in the year that THIS patient hears these reminders.
There have been cases in the past where doctors have failed to inform patients about the need to wear eye protection or even provide that eye protection for the patient. One case involved a 72-year-old man who fell on his way out of the practice’s office. It was alleged that the doctor was negligent by not providing eye protection and the sun’s glare blinded the man, causing him to stumble. This situation is one that could have easily been prevented, and in a hygienic way, with Rollens disposable shades.
The simple things can make a big difference. Taking a few moments to educate patients about dilation can help them understand the importance of the procedure and make a well-formed decision. Simple reminders and providing eye protection can also help prevent injury, discomfort, or in extreme cases, legal accusations.