[MOL] How To Talk BackTo Your Doctor [00849] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] How To Talk BackTo Your Doctor


  You know the problem: Either

because your
 doctor is rushed, or you're

scared or intimidated -
 or all of the above - you often

come out of the doctor's

office with your questions

still unanswered. Maybe

you even wonder if you've
received good care.

Here's a solution:
 Anticipate in advance
 the conversation
 stoppers that
 physicians often use

as well as how you might
reply to them. Such

planning will give you more
control over your session

with the doctor, thus

increasing the chances

that you'll receive the
information you need.

A few examples:

  "Yes, yes, I see . . ." the

doctor says, interrupting

you. If this has ever

happened to you, you're

not alone. In a recent study,

Dr. Howard Beckman of
Wayne State University

in Detroit found that doctors

interrupt patients quickly,

most often after only the

first symptom is described.

To prevent misdiagnosis

from this lack of information,

Dr. Beckman recommends

that patients prepare a

written list of symptoms
arranged in order of

importance. At the

beginning of an office

visit you can say, "I have

three symptoms. The

first is . . ." Then, if

interrupted, it will be

asier to remind the

doctor later, "Remember,

I have two other symptoms

I haven't  told you

about yet."  "I'm sorry,

but you can't come in

with the patient."
If you're feeling nervous

or ill, it's easy to forget
key questions or to

misunderstand what the
doctor says. So bringing a

relative or good friend
along - and not just to the

waiting room - can be
a good idea. But many

physicians object to
having anyone in the

examining room. A good
response is, "I'm really not

up to par today and would

like my husband to stay

with me. I think he can

help me understand and

remember what you say

better than if I were alone.

" Or "I'm a little frightened

and really need the support

of my friend."

  "You have spellosis, complicated by
  That's a nonsense diagnosis, but it probably
  makes as much sense as some real ones do when
  couched in medical dictionary language. Do not
  feel inadequate for not understanding - just ask
  the doctor to start all over again, this time in plain

  "It's nothing to worry about," or "No, it
  can't be that."
  Without an adequate medical explanation - one
  you can easily understand - you probably will
  worry. So when the doctor doesn't give you
  reasons for the conclusion, you might say: "Would
  you please explain exactly why I shouldn't worry
  about this?" Or "I'd feel more comfortable if you
  would tell me why you think it's not that." If the
  response is "Well, that's just not likely to occur,"
  insist on a better answer. "I really want to know
  the medical basis for your opinion."

                                          "Here - I think this should take care
                                          of it," as you are handed a
                                          The following questions should help you
                                          get the necessary facts: "What is this
                                          called? Why do I need it? Is there a less
                                          expensive generic version that's safe to
                                          take? What do you expect the drug to do
                                          and how long before it takes effect?
                                          When should I call you if I'm not better?
                                          Are there any special instructions about
                                          when and how I should take this drug?
                                          Could it interact with other drugs that I
                                          take?" Your pharmacist can also answer
                                          many of these questions.

                                          "I wouldn't worry about the side
                                          effects of this medicine."
                                          On the contrary, there are two good
                                          reasons to be aware of them. If a minor
                                          side effect occurs, it's comforting to know
                                          the cause. And because a major one
                                          might warrant a change in the medication,
                                          you need to know what to look out for.

                                          Try this response: "Even so, I'd really like
                                          to know any possible side effects. How
                                          likely are they? Which ones do you want
                                          to know about?" You can also get
                                          information on side effects in prescription
                                          medicine guides located in the reference
                                          department of most public libraries.

                                          "I'll order some tests."
                                          Sometimes physicians order a medical
                                          test without telling the patient much about
                                          it or realizing the needless worry this can
                                          cause. Getting a few details will help
                                          lower your anxiety level. "What is this test
                                          going to tell you? How accurate is it? Will
                                          it change my treatment? What will be
                                          done - is it risky or painful? Is there
                                          anything special I need to do

                                          "I think you should have this
                                          Depending on your medical problem,
                                          choosing the right treatment can be very
                                          difficult. First, if you don't have a clear
                                          understanding of the condition being
                                          treated and its prognosis, speak up now.
                                          "Please tell me again exactly what I have
                                          and what's likely to happen." Then ask,
                                          "Are there other treatments for this?" If
                                          so, the following questions for each
                                          therapy, including the recommended one,
                                          will help you reach a decision: "What are
                                          the benefits and risks, and how likely is it
                                          to work? What can I expect? Are there
                                          any common side effects? How much
                                          time does the treatment take, and will I
                                          have to be in the hospital?" If you're not
                                          satisfied with the responses, get a second

                                          "I don't think a second opinion will be
                                          Most doctors have no objections to
                                          another opinion and will often make a
                                          referral. If yours feels otherwise, simply
                                          say, "I understand how you feel, but I
                                          need a second opinion for my peace of
                                          mind as well as my family's." Or if this is
                                          the case, "My insurance company
                                          requires a second opinion."

                                          "Call me if you're not feeling better,"
                                          as the doctor is leaving the room.
                                          Before your doctor walks out the door,
                                          make sure you understand exactly what
                                          he or she means. "When should I call you
                                          if I keep feeling the same? If I get worse,
                                          should I let you know sooner? Are there
                                          any new things I should watch for and tell
                                          you about right away?"

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