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Don’t defy your doctor’s orders

Doctors’ orders, or instructions, are an integral component of your healthcare program. The orders usually come as prescriptions, recommendations for additional interventions, health advice, or a combination of various medical strategies. If you ever seek help from a healthcare provider, and have full confidence in their proficiency, you should always follow their advice. Unless an overriding situation arises and circumvents the initial orders.

Let’s look at prescriptions. Once you present to your doctor, you will be taken through an evaluation process to arrive at a specific diagnosis. You may end up with a prescription. The selected medication, dosage and duration are all individualized to your specific clinical circumstances. You should resist the temptation to change any of the instructions. Don’t substitute the medication, or take a different dosage, or even shorten the recommended duration of treatment. Changing any of the instructions is usually at your own peril.

Your doctor may see the need for additional interventions. These may include further diagnostic testing, surgery or even newer and complex interventions. All this may take you aback when you consider additional costs, and the time it takes to get everything done. But it may be that you have an elusive condition, or that the approach to your treatment is more complex. Again if your doctor’s expertise isn’t in question, and you have sought their help following a thorough background check, you should heed their advice.

Sometimes your doctor will prescribe nothing. They will listen to your story, review all your diagnostic tests, and then just sit back and give you verbal advice. This is usually unexpected for most, and may make you want to fault your doctor’s judgment. Sometimes doing nothing is the best course of action. If you have a benign condition, with hardly any symptoms, you can just live with it. Medical interventions have a thin line between benefits and harms. Many have ended up with severe complications, or even death, while pursuing unwarranted interventions for mundane conditions.

But it all doesn’t mean that you can never defy your doctor’s orders. If you choose to defy objective advice, you will need to be very cautious. For starters, seek audience with your doctor for a second time. Tell them you need some clarification about your proposed treatment, and why you feel you should be treated differently. Ask them if they would recommend another expert for a second opinion, or seek one yourself. But if you are just feeling defiant for whatever reason, what you end up doing is up to yourself.

Some people will go to great lengths in pursuant of their health. Only to end up ignoring the eventual doctor’s recommendations. You always retain the liberty to accept or defy medical advice. But in most cases, you are better off going by your doctor’s orders.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility

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