The absolute BEST way to make sure you get the most out of your visit with the doctor is to ask questions. LOTS and LOTS of questions.
I always try and view my doctor as a teacher of medicine. A teacher WANTS you to know and understand your health. The main objective of your doctor is to diagnose your problems and explain how you can get better.
Unlike teachers, however, doctors are taught more about medicine and less about how to instruct and assist theif patients. Everyone learns differently…teachers learn how to instruct with different methods and speeds so that everyone in the classroom can learn. Doctors are not taught these methods, nor can they possibly fit every piece of information into a 15 minute consultation.
This leads to a spiral of rushed visits where you don’t get to the “meat” of what you need to know. You’re left feeling lost and brushed aside. If your doctor brushes it aside, it must not be THAT important…right?
This is YOUR body. YOUR health. YOUR future. The only one who can fight for your future health is YOU! Don’t stick your head in the sand and ignore it just because you don’t understand it. Make your healthcare provider do their job and TEACH you! That’s what you pay them for! Hold them accountable so that you can understand your diagnosis and become a healthier you. Always.
Don’t know what to ask? Here’s a list of questions for you.
What is my diagnosis?
What is my prognosis?
What has lead to this problem/disease?
What is the treatment?
What side effects does the treatment have? What should I look for in terms of serious side effects?
How long is the treatment? How long do side effects last?
Is there anything I can do at home to help improve or reverse this condition?
Will my insurance cover this treatment?
If speaking with a surgeon:
If I was your mother/father, would you suggest I have this surgery? Why/why not?
How long will the incision be?
Where will the incision be?
How long will the recovery take?
Will I need physical therapy? If so, how long and how often?
How long will the procedure take?
What kind of anesthesia will be used?
(AKA general anesthesia where you are totally asleep, twilight anesthesia where you won’t feel anything but you are not completely asleep, or local anesthesia where you are completely awake and they use numbing medication)
What is the risk of infection? The risk of complications?
What are YOUR infection rates? What are YOUR complication rates?
(It’s so important to ask this, because all surgeons are NOT created equal!!! And trust me, they know these rates off the top of their head!!!)
Will I stay overnight in the hospital? If so, how many nights?
What will be my limitations after surgery? Will I be able to _____? (Walk, drive, go back to work, etc)
I’m most scared of ____ happening!
(This is great to open communication about what you DON’T want to happen! This will allow the surgeon to reassure you and put those fears to rest.)
I always suggest that people write down their questions before the visit with the doctor. This makes sure that all your questions get answered and you don’t forget anything in the moment!
Did this list help you? Let me know in the comments section and stay tuned for my final step on how to have a better doctor’s visit!