Written by Andy Dombro, M.D.
It seems that patient-doctor encounters are becoming shorter and less personal. So, it’s important for both of us to get as much out of the visit as we can. After all, we have the same goals. So with that in mind, it might be helpful for you to know a bit more about what we (your doctors) are thinking.
1) If you’re concerned about something, bring it up right away — don’t wait for me to do so. Mostly, I want you to take an active role in managing your health. So if it concerns you, then it concerns me. If you’re the strong, silent type, make sure your significant other is with you in the exam room.
2) Along those lines, don’t wait until the end of the visit to mention something important, when “time is up.” Example: “Oh yeah, before I go, I forgot to tell you about these severe chest pains I’ve been having.”
3) You need to be truthful with me. I will not judge you, but I do need to know … are you actually taking your medications regularly? How much do you really smoke and drink? Example: the emergency department patient that just drank “two beers.”
4) If you’re treating yourself with something other than what’s been prescribed, please let me know, no matter how strange it might be. This includes over-the-counter medications, alternative therapies, or anything else. I probably won’t disapprove, but some of these treatments could cause harm and make things worse, so I need to know.
5) I should do so, but I may feel too embarrassed to bring up the fact that you’re overweight … but I wish you would! I feel like you’ll be offended. There are many health issues linked to being obese and simply losing weight can often treat these, so it’s very important to discuss.
6) You don’t always need a prescription. Example: antibiotics for a cold, which is caused by a virus. Not only does it not help with recovery, all medications have potentially serious side effects. The problem is, we as physicians are trained to do something and you are conditioned to expect something. This is the perfect recipe for over-prescribing.
7) You don’t usually need a CT or MRI scan for a headache, neck pain, or back pain. We don’t like practicing “defensive medicine” and these tests are expensive. They also expose you to the harmful effects of radiation.
It was Will Rogers who said, “The best doctor in the world is the veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what is the matter – he’s got to just know.” But please remember, I am not a veterinarian!
Dr. Andy Dombro is an internist, healthcare consultant, husband, father of two boys, speaker, and writer. He currently serves as Medical Director and CMO of BridgeHealth Medical and Director and Medical Advisor for Volante Capital Advisors, LLC.
Through his writing, Dr. Dombro attempts to bring topical health/medical information to readers in an understandable, practical, and entertaining way. In his free time, he enjoys golf, skiing, travel, and spending time with his family.
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