An article by gynecologist Dr. Lissa Rankin and other physicians about the top 10 dumb things people do at their doctor had me laughing. But it got me thinking about the things that patients do or don't do that actually can be detrimental to their health.
1. Not remembering that you're seeing me, not Dr. Oz!
Hopefully, you have a good connection with your doctor where you feel there is an open environment. While popular talk shows can be helpful for broad strokes, remember that you are an individual with your own set of medical circumstances. Focused advice for you is a better bet.
2. Saying, 'I want something natural'
The whole concept of natural and bio-identical has been a great marketing tool, but the fact is that there is no medical term bio-identical. It has been taken to mean identical with one's own body hormones, but that term has, for most, also been equated with natural and therefore no harm. That, as well, is not true. The notion of bio-identical compounded formulas means that there are no safety data, product insert or any real idea based in science of the benefits or risks. Foxglove is natural, but take enough and you will kill yourself!! Don't get confused between science and selling.
3. Bringing in reams of sheets from the Internet
Self-diagnosis can be a worrisome thing. Googling or searching for a symptom can pull up loads of diseases that have nothing to do with the real issue at hand. While an educated patient is best equipped to make meaningful decisions, be wary of where the information is coming from.
4. Forgetting that I'm your doctor, not your mother
I am not here to judge you but to help you, as are all physicians. So, telling your doctor something you think they want to hear as opposed to the truth can only come back to haunt you. Be it holding back information about your lifestyle, alcohol intake, exercise or lack of it and the way you eat, it won't let your doctor give you advice that relates to you!
5. Forgetting that I'm your doctor, not your best friend!
There is no question that the relationship is inequitable! I know everything about you -- or at least should -- but you really are not entitled to the same information about your own doctor! You do want there to be a distance that allows objectivity and clarity of thinking.
6. Thinking, 'If the doctor is always running late, then why can't I?'
Well, you might think that is reasonable, but it simply is not! We do our best to respect booking times but emergencies do happen. If everyone ignored their booked time there really would be no hope to get through all the appointments!
7. 'I take a yellow pill and a blue one!'
You must be responsible for your medications and any other supplements that you are taking. Giving us the color or shape of a pill really doesn't help. Keep a list of ALL medications, supplements, herbals, etc, that you take as they can interact with each other, your diet or something else we might want to give you.
8. Just the facts ma'am, just the facts
Try to have a clear history to present. Your doctor is often a detective trying to figure out what is going on. Don't omit details that you think may not be important, as indeed they might be.
9. Not speaking up when you have no clue what I said
If you have no clue what your doctor said, then you have to speak up. Communication is key to understanding and often us doctors seem to talk in code. Stop and ask for clarification, explanation and repeat back instructions to make sure you are both on the same page.
10. Your hand is on the doorknob to leave when you say the real reason for your visit
Make sure that you let your doctor know the complaints in a prioritized way. Your visit usually is time-sensitive, so telling us your husband just left you or you had chest pain with shortness of breath as you are leaving is never a good idea.
11. Thinking that my staff really are nosy
When the front desk asks you what the appointment is about, it is not idle gossip. They ask because they need to know how to best accommodate the visit, triage it as urgent or to make sure there is adequate time. Telling the staff you just have a simple form, when it really is an assessment before you have surgery won't cut it. A preoperative checkup requires adequate time. The physical exam you had six months ago is too far way to use that as the basis of the form!
12. Telling me, 'It's urgent- I ran out of my medications!'
Most doctors will give you an ongoing prescription with repeats. The repeats are not endless, as you require a reassessment. I remind my patients that when you pick up your last refill, it means you should be booking your recall appointment with adequate lead time for both you and the doctor.
13. Stopping your medications or not taking them or self-medicating with what you had around the house
None of these are good ideas! The way in which you are prescribed a medication is important. Not stating it or stopping it on your own without telling the doctor is always a bad idea. It may lead to unwanted side effects or complications that your doctor will be unaware of.
14. Going to more than one prescriber
You fail to tell your doctor that you went to a walk-in clinic or another doctor and you are on a medication or treatment program. Having that ongoing unique relationship with a health care provider will ensure you don't have duplication or omissions and that there are no unwanted medication interactions.
The bottom line is that you should have a comfortable partnership with your health care provider. Get your questions heard and get answers in language you understand. It is this collaboration that will keep you healthy!