I had a routine physical a couple of weeks ago, something I do every 3 years, and I was back at home before I realized I hadn't asked my doctor several questions that had been on my mind for months. Apparently, I'm not alone. Research shows that although most people claim to want as much information about their medical conditions and treatments as they can get, even the most confident are struck dumb (even with their clothes on) when talking to doctors.
Virginia Teas Gill, a medical sociologist at Illinois State University, said, "Some patients show up to a scheduled appointment with a fistful of questions, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fine. But, to get them answered, write the questions down beforehand, and say at the outset of the office visit: Ã¢â‚¬ËœIÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got some questions. When would be the best time for me to ask them?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ That alerts the doctor Ã¢â‚¬â€ who has to keep an eye on the time Ã¢â‚¬â€ to what the patientÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s agenda is, so that the two can prioritize what to cover and decide whether theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll need a follow-up meeting".
The internet is already transforming many medical encounters. Some patients now come armed with journal articles and printouts, and demand specific treatment. Doctors may give in to a patientÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s request, if it is made in an assertive manner. (They don't like confrontation any more than the rest of us.) But the patient may lose the advantages of the physicianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s experience. You may end up getting what you want, not what you need.
I recommend a book, You: The Smart Patient: An InsiderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Handbook for Getting the Best Treatment,Ã¢â‚¬Â published this year. Written by two physicians Ã¢â‚¬â€ Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz Ã¢â‚¬â€ the book helps patients cut through medical jargon, find a good surgeon or hospital, get a second opinion and navigate health insurance problems.