I’m a Type I diabetic (insulin dependent for life), and, so, have had a great deal of experience with the Western Medical establishment. There are some great Diabetes management out there. But there are also some that are so arrogant as to be dangerous to your health and even your life. Here are 10 ways I’ve figured out over the years to get the most from your doctor and keep your doc from being your executioner, too.
1). Find a doctor who listens. It is estimated that doctors often do 80% or more of the talking in a medical appointment. This is not good medical practice. A doctor should ask questions and thoroughly listen to the answers, as well as listening to patient concerns. If your doc doesn’t listen, it is time to walk out and get a new doctor. Immediately.
2). Don’t go to an overbooked doctor. Some doctors will spend less than 5 minutes per patient. This is not sufficient time to hear patient concerns and effectively evaluate the problem. If your doctor won’t spend the necessary time to actually help you, your doctor is not good for your health.
3). Find a doctor who “sees” you. If you’re overweight, as I am, most doctors will blame everything on your weight. This is absurd! If your doctor cannot see you as an individual, he or she is wrong for you.
4). Don’t go to a doctor you can’t see. Many medical offices have an over-dependence on nurse-practitioners and medical assistants. This is great if you have a minor issue. But these folks, while trained to handle everyday issues, are not the appropriate person to be assigned to if you have something complex going on. If you can’t actually see the doctor in a reasonable amount of time, that person is the wrong doctor for you.
5). A pill is not the solution to everything. If your doctor gets out the prescription pad too soon, run, do not walk, away from that office. All prescriptions are small doses of some sort of poison or another. This is why you can have “overdoses.” Too many doctors see a pill as the solution for everything. Sometimes a prescription is appropriate and sometimes it isn’t. Especially beware of doctors who over-prescribe antibiotics. If you take too many and then really need them, you may be resistant to their beneficial effects.
6). Check out all prescriptions with your pharmacist and/or the internet. Your doctor is, surprisingly, not the expert on medications. Your pharmacist is. Before you fill a prescription or put one pill in your mouth, check out drug interactions, side effects, and contraindications. Be especially careful if more than one doctor prescribes you medications. Certain combinations can be deadly. Don’t just trust that, even if you’ve told the doctor everything you’re taking, that your doc will check things out. In the end, you are responsible for assuring that you don’t take something that will be dangerous to you.
7). Stay away from arrogant doctors. A good doctor will see you as a vital partner in your health care. Too many doctors, however, think that they’re gods. If your doctor bristles at being questioned or starts to rattle off his or her education to bully you into doing what the doctor orders, leave immediately. An arrogant doctor is a bad doctor.
8). Carry copies of your medications and your lab tests with you everywhere, and keep them updated. Don’t trust the labs to get your results to all of your doctors, even if you’ve asked to have the results sent multiple places. Carry a copy with you of your latest (and 2 – 3 previous) lab results to show your doctors. It not only saves time, but could save your life. As for medications, make sure that each doctor has an up-to-date list of everything you’re taking. Copy the exact information off of the prescription label. In a pinch, take all of your prescriptions with you to a medical visit. The medical assistant will copy down the information from the label.
9). Always question the reasons for tests. Some doctors practice “defensive medicine.” They’ll order unnecessary tests just to cover all bases. Always ask why a test is being ordered, what the risks are, and what the doctor is expecting to find. If you don’t get good answers, the test is probably unnecessary. Keep in mind that medical tests are medical procedures. Even a simple blood draw has risks, to say nothing of more complicated testing.
10). Take a clue from office staff. No matter how great you think the doctor is, you will not be safe or happy in the long run if the office staff is incompetent, rude, or curt. Remember, the office staff is an indication of the attitudes of the doctor towards his or her patients. If the staff is wonderful, there is a good chance the doc will be, too.