10 Dumb Things Patients Do At The Doctor’s Office

Here are the Top 10 things patients do to mess up their own care:

1. You talk on your cell phone.
This is your health we’re talking about. Other calls can wait. Turn the thing off.

2. You lie.
We need to treat you the best way we can, so if you’re gay, say so. If you drink a bottle of tequila every night, your doctor needs to know. If you’re having an affair and not using condoms, let your doctor know.

3. You do a sloppy job describing your pain.
Is it stabbing or burning? Sudden or constant? Tingling or hot? The answers will help your doctor make the right diagnosis. You should describe the exact location, how intense the pain was, what provoked it and how long it lasted. The week before your appointment, keep a diary of your pain and your other symptoms and be prepared with questions.

4. You don’t state up front all the reasons for your visit.
If your ear hurts, your knee pops out when you run and you have a sty in your eye, state all three concerns at the beginning of the appointment so your doctor can plan your visit efficiently.

5. You don’t state up front your expectations for your visit.
If you have certain hopes or expectations — the doctor will pop that sty in your eye or prescribe antibiotics for your sore ear — say so. The doctor can then explain if your expectations are realistic, and you’ll be happier in the end. Sometimes patients expectations are out of proportion to what the reality is, like the 44-year-old woman who hopes to get pregnant in one IVF cycle.

6. You don’t know what medications you’re taking.
Patients should bring a list of medications they’re actually taking, not what they believe they are supposed to be taking, or what they think their doctor wants them to take. If you take supplements, bring them in, since supplements aren’t standardized like prescription drugs, and your doctor will want to see all the ingredients.

7. You leave with unspoken questions and concerns.
If a question’s in your head, ask it, even if you think the doctor is rushed. If you’re worried your headache might be a brain tumor, say it even if you think you sound like a hypochondriac.

8. You don’t bring your medical records or images with you.
Yes, even in this day and age, many doctors rely on the fax machine to send medical records to and fro. Faxes goof up, so unless you absolutely, positively know your doctor has your records and images from another office, bring them with you, doctors advise.

9. You’re too scared to disagree with your doctor.
If your doctor suggests you need an antidepressant and you don’t want to take it, say so instead of nodding your head, taking the prescription and throwing it away the minute you’re out the door. Or if she suggests a medication you can’t afford, just say so. Doctors can’t read your mind, so we need you to communicate. If the treatment plan suggested doesn’t resonate with the intuitive wisdom of your Inner Healer, please say something, instead of ignoring what your doctor’s instructions.

10. You don’t comply with the treatment plan.
For doctors, this is the granddaddy of them all. If you’ve followed all the advice above, you should have a treatment plan that makes sense to you and one you’re able to execute. Follow through and do what you’ve agreed to do and if you don’t, please say something so your doctor doesn’t  mistakenly assume the treatment failed.

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