Have you ever come home from a doctor’s appointment and Googled a medical term that your doctor used that you had never heard of? Well you are not alone, because unless you are in the healthcare profession it is oftentimes difficult to interpret what physicians are trying to convey to you. Not only is it important to understand what physicians are telling you, but it is just as imperative to ask questions about your health condition so you can be fully aware of what you are dealing with. This is easier said than done for most patients because there are factors to consider when visiting the doctor’s office, and I have listed three very important topics to consider.
First, let’s consider the reason why you are seeing a physician in the first place. Is it because you have recently had a health scare and are there to see what was the cause? This can lead to misinformation because the patient is in a vulnerable state and can be distracted and not quite receptive to the information being given.
Another reason to keep in mind is that a patient may be hard of hearing and is unable to interpret all the information given to them. If they are unable to hear then that will obviously reduce their chances of understanding their diagnosis and how it will be treated.
And lastly, let’s acknowledge an important reason why patients won’t ask questions and it’s because they are afraid to ask them. A patient may be afraid to ask simply because they don’t want to know the answer to the question, or they may feel like the physician will think they are unknowledgeable and are embarrassed to ask. If you are afraid of the latter let me reassure you that most physician’s do not think that way. In fact, most are very receptive to questions, so asking questions should take top priority in your doctor’s visit.
If you still feel scared, embarrassed, intimidated, or if you are hard of hearing, you may want to consider hiring a patient advocate to accompany you to your appointment. Health advocates can be extremely helpful in this situation because they can be there with you to address issues you may be facing, and they know the right questions to ask when you do not. Not only will an advocate meet you at the doctor’s office, but they will also go over your plan of care so you will be confident and in control of your healthcare decisions. In addition to that, advocates can collaborate with your whole healthcare team to make sure everyone is on the same page.
With all of that being said, don’t let a doctor’s appointment stress you out, let an advocate help you so that you can have peace of mind knowing you have all the information you need to increase your chances of having a better health outcome.