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In what other profession is it acceptable and actually expected by our customers to be asked: "when was the last time you had a bowel movement?" Oh boy! And not only do we want to know "when" we want to know specifics; color, consistency, and frequency for gosh sakes! Now, we not only ask this on admission, but we keep asking it during the hospitalization!
Okay, enough of that...we can be light-hearted and laugh about this because we do ask the "darndest" questions as Healthcare providers, but on a serious note, we ask seemingly basic and tirvial questions (over and over again by the way) so that we do not miss an important aspect of someone's history and physical that would possibly impact their care. I know many times patients wonder why the doctor, preadmit staff, operating room staff, recovery staff, and unit staff ask them the same question like if they have any allergies? They think, "don't these guys talk to one another or look at my chart?" Well, of course we do, but we also have a tremendous responsibility to provide safe and consistent care, so the questions do get repeated.
What we could probably do a better job of is strive to be considerate, thoughtful, diplomatic, and ask delicate and often awkward questions with the utmost sensitvity and take time to educate the patient about our inquiries.
Oh yeah, and the next time a healthcare provider is asking you a personal question like "do you drink?"...they're not referring to coffee!