Doctors admit it: Distraction is real. They have a lot to do, they often try to multitask, and sometimes, they get distracted when they should be helping patients.

It’s a serious issue if it leads to avoidable mistakes and injuries. Here are a few things that doctors want you to know as a patient to reduce the chances of an error:

  • Doctors often can’t help being distracted; it’s just the nature of the modern office.
  • Short sentences make it easier for doctors to follow along and understand what you’re getting at.
  • Repeating yourself does not usually help unless the doctor asks you to say something again.
  • Start off by talking about your main concerns, not everything you can think of.
  • If the doctor is trying to do another task — like reading your chart — it’s not helpful to talk to them at the same time. It’s better to wait until they’re done.
  • Eye contact matters. Wait until you know that the two of you are having a direct conversation before saying anything critical.

While this information certainly can help, it is worth noting that it puts the pressure on the patient to communicate with the doctor. That’s not necessarily fair. If you go to the doctor, you deserve a high level of care, and you deserve a doctor who works hard to avoid distraction and listen to you. It’s not your job to help the doctor pay attention.

If a medical professional makes a mistake because of distraction, it is important for you to know all of the steps you can take to seek compensation.