Despite their best intentions and years of training, doctors are fallible just like the rest of us. They might occasionally make honest mistakes and misconstrue what is being communicated to them. For this reason, it's important that you take an active role when dealing with your physician. Ask lots of questions and remain focused on the details of why you're speaking to them in the first place. If you're met with a negative response then perhaps consider looking for a new doctor, but make sure that you're asking the proper questions that will give you more control and understanding over your medical health.
1. What Are My Different Options?
The days of a doctor silently mulling over a patient's record and then announcing the course of action without so much of a glance in their direction have long gone. The doctor/patient relationship to aspire to is one that is reciprocal and fully transparent, where the decision-making process is shared. The role of the doctor is to assess the patient's issue and then inform them of their options, so don't be afraid to ask what the alternatives are.
2. What Outcome Can I Expect?
If you've taken the decision to begin taking certain medications, have surgery, or engage in any other kind of treatment that your doctor has prescribed, don't just assume that this will be a miracle cure. Your doctor will know whether treatment will result in a marked improvement for you or if it will simply alleviate a few of the symptoms, so be sure to establish exactly what outcome you can expect. With this knowledge, you might decide to change your decision on the course of treatment altogether.
3. Can This Wait?
A common conundrum for doctors is that they have too much to do in too little time. Therefore, the temptation is to try and race through as many issues with their patient as possible. This can be counterproductive, however, so don't be afraid to suggest that you focus on a specific area and instead leave the lesser issues for another day. Not only will this make for a more thorough appointment, but your physician will also be extremely grateful.
4. What Can I Do?
Your personal lifestyle choices account for a whopping 70% of your risk of illness and disease, according to Dr. Rob Danoff, a doctor of osteopathic medicine within Philidelphia's Aria Health System. Ultimately, you have control over factors such as diet, exercise routine, and whether or not you smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol in excess. Adjusting your lifestyle choices can make a far greater impact on your overall health than any treatments a doctor will recommend, but unless you ask the question they're unlikely to offer their clinical advice in this area.
5. What Are The Side Effects?
Depending on the treatment, this is arguably the most important question you should be asking your physician. Even if the side effects of taking medication are minimal, you should always discuss their potential impact. Understanding the risk you're about to take will also minimize any unwanted surprises later down the line as you'll be fully prepared for any reactions that might occur.