How To Help Your Doctor Help You
Do your doctors hear you when you talk?
The difference between a good doctor and a great doctor is how well they listen. Doctors do not usually get any training in how to be completely present while their patients are talking about their concerns. They often see many patients in one day, and they just can’t hold and process all the information coming at them. Some have a natural gift of truly listening, but more often, they need our help. This means we need to be prepared before we get there.
Making a list of symptoms and questions is important so you don’t get sidetracked. You can even hand a copy to the nurse or doctor. It is also important to have the list in a format that is accessible for you so you know everything gets addressed to your satisfaction.
If you are very ill, having an advocate who you trust to take notes for you and maybe even to talk for you can make the appointment more productive. You may also choose to record the appointment if that works best for you.
It is always good to keep in mind that the doctor works for you. You pay him or her. You are the boss. This gives you the right to ask questions until you fully understand his assessment and recommendations.
It is perfectly appropriate to ask a doctor how she came to her conclusions. If you receive a brusque or unenlightened answer, either keep asking until you are satisfied or go doctor shopping. There is probably a better fit for you.
Once you have received a treatment plan or prescription for medications, make sure you ask why this particular treatment was chosen. Ask for details about any tests being prescribed. Always ask what other options are available. More often than not, there are several options, and you won’t know them unless you ask.
It is very important that you or an advocate for you keep track of your test results and lab work results. You need to ask the doctor if he saw them and get him to tell you exactly what it all means. It doesn’t hurt to do your own research if you can.
Your doctor is supposed to work with you. He should be gentle and nonjudgmental. Never should you feel intimidated.
It is up to you to seek a doctor or team of doctors whom you trust and who treats you with the respect you deserve. The best way to have a great doctor is to go shopping for a primary doctor when you are healthy. Should you need referrals for specialists, you are more likely to get ones that will work with you in the way that is best for you.
The most important thing to remember is that you are the boss and you have the right to fire your doctor at any time. You are not required to explain. You are entitled to all of your medical records whenever you ask for them. You are also entitled to get copies of all notes and results for your own records.
Having a great doctor is a beautiful relationship. It is worth the time it takes to find one that you like and trust.