by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
If you have a severe hearing loss, hearing your name being called in a busy doctor’s office is stressful to say the least, and can be an exercise in futility when you keep being “missed” because you never heard your name called.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Even when the doctor’s office isn’t set up to be “hearing friendly”, you can do things to make yourself stand out and thus get your needs met. Here’s what Mary did.
Mary was having cataract surgery in a large, busy outpatient clinic. She was having the pre-op, surgery and post-op all the same day so was going to be “called” a number of times throughout the day. She had tried some strategies before, but this time she hit the jackpot in discovering something that really worked.
Before she went to the clinic she got a bright yellow sheet of paper and printed on it in big bold letters:
PATIENT IS HARD OF HEARING
MAY NOT HEAR NAME CALLED
WEARING YELLOW TOP TODAY
Then she color-coordinated her “top” with the paper color.
When she checked in, she gave the paper to the receptionist and had her clip it to the outside front of her chart. Here’s what happened. Mary wrote:
It was a huge success! I was able to see the sheet on the outside of the chart several times so I got up before they even called my name. (Note: You need to do your part too and be proactive—watch for someone coming with your “yellow” chart.)
I had 2 people come directly to me, and one lady just had the yellow sheet in her hand when she was coming my way. (Wearing the yellow top really helped them find me.) One time I saw my yellow chart in the box outside one of the offices so I knew that was my chart when they pulled it.
When Mary went back for follow-up a week or so later she did the same thing—took her yellow card and wore a yellow top. She explains:
I saw the yellow sheet as the first technician called my name, so stood up. She laughed. The same thing happened when the second person called my name. However, when the third girl called out into the large waiting area, she was behind me. It didn’t seem that she was looking for a yellow shirt. She seemed to be looking over the heads of people, but I turned around and said, “Did you just call Mary?” and then I saw the yellow sheet so I knew she really was calling me. She commented on what a great idea that was. Everyone remembered to clip the yellow sheet back on top of my chart, ready for the next person. This has been a successful and positive experience in advocating for my hearing needs.
Thanks for the tip Mary!
Next time you are in a similar situation, adapt Mary’s strategy to fit your needs. It worked for her. It should work for you too!