Fertility is also men’s business
April 6, 2020
Taking individual responsibility for better health
April 10, 2020

Get your doctor to explain stuff

I have discussed several times in this column about the merits of good communication between you and your doctor. It must always be a balanced interaction. You give your story, and the doctor listens without interruption.

The doctor then makes a judgment, and explains everything clearly. You both then enter a discussion phase where either side clarifies any unclear issues. Then you make a combined decision on treatment options. Period.

But it doesn’t always happen that way. Many a times, patients keep complaining that nothing was ever explained. Some will claim not to have been clear about their diagnosis, leave alone the specific treatment that may have been recommended. You hear of experiences that smell of a paternalistic encounter. Doctors spell out what is good for you, without giving you much chance to have your say in how you get treated.

So, who allows such unbalanced clinical encounters to go on in this day and age? Doctors must do better. They have a duty to spend quality time with patients, explain everything in clear details, and in a simple language that patients can easily understand. Complex discussions should be backed up with simple information leaflets that patients can look through in their own time. Granted, some patients will be somewhat withdrawn, or just easily intimidated. That’s no excuse, doctors must make all efforts to get each patient involved in their own care.

Where do you come in? You owe yourself a duty to be crystal clear about what is ailing you. It’s no good leaving all decisions to your doctor. Part of initiating a discussion with your doctor is to learn the art of asking questions. It doesn’t matter that your doctor is the most revered specialist in their domain. They cannot be aloof to you, they wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for your illness anyway. Get a clear explanation about your diagnosis, and how the doctor proposes to treat you. Don’t leave the consultation room until everything is clear. If dissatisfied about your discussions, say so and ask for clarifications. Or leave and consult elsewhere.

Many misunderstandings between you and your doctor result from poor communication. If either side plays a passive role, especially you, things can quickly escalate onto unruly paths. You can only make fully informed medical decisions if you have all the relevant facts. Your doctor can only optimize your care if they have kept you fully involved from the outset. It doesn’t matter where the communication gaps originate from. Your eventual outcome will always be negatively affected if your doctor keeps some stuff about your illness to themselves.

If you ever find any obstacles in your quest for adequate medical information, don’t just accept it. You have the right to know, as much as you want, about your ailment.

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I have discussed several times in this column about the merits of good communication between you and your doctor. It must always be a balanced interaction. You give your story, and the doctor listens without interruption.

The doctor then makes a judgment, and explains everything clearly. You both then enter a discussion phase where either side clarifies any unclear issues. Then you make a combined decision on treatment options. Period.

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