Take Charge of Your Next Appointment

Every year, you faithfully march to the doctor for your annual physical. When’s the last time you gave your doctor a good once-over? So, take charge of your next appointment, by following these tips we found in Oprah’s O magazine.

  • If you’re diagnosed with a serious health problem, never let one doctor decide your treatment. Unless you need an emergency operation, you typically have time to seek out a 2nd and 3rd opinion before deciding on a course of action. Also, try driving to nearby cities, since doctors in the same location often consult each other about their style of care. Always ask your doctor if she’s discussed all the options with you, including what’ll happen if you do nothing.
  • Also, when you tell your doctor you’ll be getting other opinions, pay attention to his reaction. If he gets defensive, or angry, fire him. You’d do the same thing if a mechanic got nasty with you, or recommended unnecessary car repairs, right? Remember a physician is YOUR employee.
  • Another way to take charge is to ask about your doctor’s experience. Like any other job, doctors get better with more experience and practice. So if you ever need routine surgery, you should find a doctor who’s performed that surgery at least a hundred times. If it’s a newer procedure – like some types of bariatric surgery – get a doctor who’s done at least a dozen of the operations.
  • Get copies of all your medical records. Some doctors resist this, because the information in those records makes it easier for you to seek treatment elsewhere! The fact is, it’s YOUR body. Those are YOUR records and you should have a copy of everything. Just be prepared to pay extra for copy expenses – especially for duplicates of x-rays.
  • Take charge of your doctor by staying in touch. Especially if you’re undergoing any kind of treatment where there might be complications. For instance, you might have stitches that are prone to bleeding. Or you’re on medication known to cause severe headaches. You should get a list of emergency cell phone and pager numbers – or even an e-mail address – where you can reach your doctor immediately.

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