How impeccable are your FAQ’s and handouts?

Doctors have yet to figure this out … how about you and your company?

Lateral Epicondylitis

Yesterday, I visited my Orthopedist and learned I had been suffering from Lateral Epicondylitis — otherwise known as Tennis Elbow. After receiving the recommended shot of cortisone, I was placed in two braces — one to keep my wrist stationary and another that uses a gel pack to press down and immobilize the tendon near the elbow. Overall, my time with my doctor was very pleasant and his staff was friendly and competent. This feeling changed slightly, after I left…

You see, the doctor had given me three handouts before he sent me on my way. Here’s the exact (total) verbiage from one of those forms:



The night of the injection, ice the hand/wrist down for 10 minutes out of every hour for 3-4 hours.

The next day, begin to soak the hand in hot water for 5 minutes squeezing a sponge or rubber ball, then cold water for 2 minutes, twice a day for 3 weeks.


Simple and straight forward enough, right? Except, here are a list of questions and concerns that later ensued:

1. He had told me to replace the words “hand/wrist” with “arm” … or did he say “elbow?” When it came time to soak, I couldn’t remember. And why wasn’t I getting a handout specific to my condition?

2. Not until I retyped their form’s verbiage here did I realize that I was supposed to ice it for 10 minutes, every hour last night. For some reason, I read it that first time as, 10 minutes every 3-4 hours (I guess my brain didn’t catch the “out of”) — oh well, too late now. (Can I be the only one ever to have read it that way?)

3. How hot is “hot” and how cold is “cold,” for the water? A simple adverb probably could have answered this.

4. It says to “squeeze a sponge or rubber ball” — hmmm … does that mean squeeze and hold or squeeze, release, repeat? Additionally, am I supposed to do the same after switching to the cold water? This isn’t clear.

Let’s call it “Patient-Brain”

The challenge is, when you’re at your doctor’s office, you don’t often realize what you should have asked until after you leave. He covered many things and I didn’t catch it all. (Ooh, that just gave me an idea for the docs — if you’re not going to update your FAQ’s or handouts, how about providing us patients with your office logo’d pen and notepad to take our own notes?)

Oh, and to boot, this form was clearly (or should I say not-so-clearly) a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy. The contact information and the names of the 7 associates were so blurry that most were illegible.

He told me that he sees this condition 3-5 times per day and he’s been in practice for a few decades. Shouldn’t the patient-with-tennis-elbow system be completely flawless —  impeccable — by now?

So how might this apply to you and your company?… [Read more…]