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11/07/13

Dr. Feelgood: Evolution of the patient is an exercise in education

You get sick. You go to the doctor. The doctor tells you what is wrong and then gives you medicine or, for more serious cases, a course of action.
That's pretty much the norm when it comes to a doctor and patient relationship as far as the former dishing out the direction in somewhat soothsayer fashion, while the latter isn't in any mindset or physical capacity to argue.
This scenario plays out constantly in hospitals and doctors' offices around the country and, and first glance, appears to be the ideal banter when it comes to patients, their sickness and how the doctor goes about his or her business.
But technology and a more informed society, thanks to medical forums and online support groups among other things, has given birth to a new age of patients that comes to their appointment as more than just a bystander but rather a voice that needs to be heard.
No one is arguing that the doctor still knows best, but the day of ditching important questions for the professional with the stethoscope have long since ended. Today's patient is embarking on a bit of an epiphany in that they're no longer timid, meek or totally guided by a doctor's initial diagnosis.

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If your doctor wants you to have test, you should ask why, or better yet, offer a suggestion that avoids one particular test for another that is less evasive. If your physician proclaims that this medication is best, don't be afraid to speak up if you have any misgivings about ingesting it.
Furthermore, don't shy away from bringing someone to either ask additional questions or simply to jot down notes. You'd be surprised just how valuable that scratch paper scribble means once you leave the office. You're so emotionally involved in the conversation and understanding the circumstances that you're likely to forget at least one key detail during your time with the doctor. That's when a second person comes in handy.
This practice shouldn't be confused with insubordination of sorts within a doctor's office. Instead, you're rightfully and simply including yourself in your wellness trajectory.
In other words, you leave the doctor's office satisfied, rather than subdued. The doctor hasn't wrestled away your opinion but rather the two of you worked together to come up with a point A to point B time line that puts you at ease.
Your proactive approach to your relationship with your physician doesn't end when your appointment is over, either. It's important to always keep the lines of communication open as part of your follow up and checking in with the doctor's office hardly is considered being a pest.
A good office will appreciate your attention to detail and the fact that you've actually taken an interest in what the outcome is going to be.

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