Talking to your doctor: One physician’s advice
Communicating with your physician is an important part of your medical care. Doctors and patients who work as a team are more likely to achieve better health outcomes.
According to research published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, “Patients who understand their doctors are more likely to acknowledge health problems, understand their treatment options, modify their behavior accordingly, and follow their medication schedules.”
Patients who understand their doctors are more likely to acknowledge health problems, understand their treatment options, modify their behavior accordingly, and follow their medication schedules.
Doctors of osteopathic medicine, or DOs, are trained to first consider the person in the patient. Listening to you and partnering in your care are crucial to the holistic, empathic approach of osteopathic medicine.
Dr. Octavia Cannon, DO, offers her insight on how patients can better partner with their physicians to ensure that they receive the medical care they need and want. This, in turn, can lead them down the road to more robust health.
What would you tell patients who are too embarrassed to ask about something?
You chose me to be your physician. I am here to help you make decisions about your health. What we discuss in the office stays in the office unless we both agree to involve other people. Don’t be embarrassed to talk to me, I want to help you and I will not judge you.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your physician, you must get a new one. Your life may depend on it. Rely on the recommendations of friends/family to help you find a good fit.
How do you feel about questions that are obvious to you but not to someone without a medical background?
I believe in educating my patients. It makes my job easier! I want them to be able to make decisions with the appropriate information. I have no issue with answering their or their family’s questions.
What kind of questions should people ask about medication?
Why do I need this medicine? What are my treatment options? Are there any side effects? Is it safe to take with my other medicines (though I will say that most physicians have checked for possible drug interactions before prescribing anything)? How long will I have to take it?
Any other specific questions you want your patients to ask about, or advice to patients on how they can feel more confident and prepared?
If you can’t or don’t want to take someone with you, take notes or record the doctor’s instructions. Write down questions or type them into your phone to take with you to the appointment. It can help you organize your thoughts. Keep an open mind; if you aren’t willing to try the doctor’s suggestions, then don’t expect things to change. It’s a partnership. If you feel unsure about your doctor’s recommendations, seek a second opinion.