17 Questions Doctors Wish Their Patients Would AskCategory: Newsworthy Notes
In the Oct. 5, 2021, US World & News Report there is an in-depth and wonderful article entitled “17 Questions Doctors Wish Their Patients Would Ask”. We’re going to take excerpts from it today to give you an understanding of why a curious patient is a healthy patient. You can find the article, by Lisa Esposito and Amir Khan, medically reviewed by Paul Krieger, MD, online.
A doctor’s visit is a key opportunity for a healthy conversation. Speak up with questions like:
What preventive care services are right for me?
Do you understand what I just said?
Would you recommend this treatment to a family member?
Which internet resources can I trust for medical information?
How does my family medical history affect my risk for certain conditions?
Why are you prescribing this medication?
Will flying after my surgery affect my recovery?
How could high blood pressure affect my health down the road?
How does sleep impact my health?
What do you do for your personal wellness?
How many patients with my condition have you treated?
Do I really need an antibiotic for this?
My real fear is _________. How concerned should I be?
Can we talk about end-of-life care?
When should I come see you again?
Can we discuss _________ examples: gynecological, urological, or sexual issue?
Is my personal odor or discharge normal?
Doctors say they wish their patients would be more proactive and ask these questions during their visit.
What preventive care services are right for me? Preventive care is intended to target disease prevention and keep the patient healthy. Doctors would like to hear more patients ask about preventive care. That means discussing current guidelines on age-appropriate tests and vaccines.
Your physician can describe why specific types of preventive care measures, such as breast cancer screening or shingles vaccination, are healthy choices and potentially the right fit for you.
Do you understand what I just said? It can feel like doctors and patients aren’t taking part in the same conversation. The most important question that patients should ask is, “Do you understand what I said?” Sometimes, patients say they’ll relate a concern to a physician who may then come back with a response that doesn’t fit the patient’s meaning or need. Physicians and patients alike can benefit from asking, ‘Am I understood?’ Otherwise, that is a big barrier to getting great care.
Would you recommend this treatment to a family member? If it was your sister or mom, would you recommend this to them? That allows a routine professional discussion to one on a more human, relatable level, and it gives your doctor an opportunity to shift his perspective.
Which internet resources can I trust for medical information? Ask your doctor about which sites s/he trusts, so when you inevitably Google your symptoms, you’re not being misled. Information is important, but accurate and reliable information is far more important.
How does my family history affect my risk for certain conditions? It’s important to discuss family medical history with your doctor. Some medical conditions affect multiple family members across generations. If first-degree relatives, such as a parent or sibling, or even more distant relatives have heart disease, an autoimmune disease or some types of cancer, you could be at higher risk.
Why are you prescribing this medication? Too often doctors expect patients to blindly trust their judgment when prescribing medications. But you deserve more information. When patients ask why they’re being given a certain medication, it’s an opportunity for the doctor and patient to have an open conversation about treatment. If you don’t understand, your doctor wants to know.
Will flying after my surgery affect my recovery? Always tell your doctor if you’re planning a flight around the time you’re undergoing a procedure such as a biopsy or skin excision. Air travel can potentially contribute to wound complications such as infection or bleeding. Even for patients who aren’t undergoing a surgical procedure, air travel can impair your overall health. Because flying exposes you to long periods of forced sitting and being in close quarters with other passengers, ask your doctor how to reduce potential risks for blood clots and whether you need to update travel vaccinations.
How could high blood pressure affect my health down the road? If you’re diagnosed with hypertension, there are many treatments to help keep your blood pressure under control. You should understand why it’s important to do so and the long-term effects that high blood pressure can have. Staying informed gives you awareness of symptoms to watch for and helps you take proactive measures to reduce your risks from this “invisible” but serious medical condition.
How does sleep impact my health? Getting a good night’s sleep doesn’t just improve your mood the next day. If you’re experiencing insomnia, it can impact your physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation has been linked in studies to increased long-term risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and shorter-term risks like coming down with a common cold.
Let your doctor know if you’re having trouble sleeping and ask how sleep affects your health. That opens the conversation to possible causes of sleep deprivation that can be addressed through lifestyle changes or other means.
What do you do for your personal wellness? Engaging your doctor in a conversation about his or her health can give you an idea of what you should be doing in your own life. A physician who practices a healthy lifestyle is more successful in getting their patients to adopt healthy living. A patient should be able to ask their physician about how s/he practices wellness, and a physician should be honest and open to the discussion. Some doctors might be more comfortable discussing their personal habits than others. If you sense discomfort, try pivoting the conversation back to you, such as asking, “Do you practice any personal wellness tips that I could apply to my lifestyle?”
How many patients with my condition have you treated? Having confidence in your doctor means you’re more apt to follow his or her instructions. Asking about their previous experience with your condition is a great way to ensure that you’re getting the best treatment you can. Experience is critical in managing complex cases.
Do I really need an antibiotic for this? Physicians often feel the need to prescribe an antibiotic to appease a patient. Such a question will lessen the likelihood that an antibiotic may be prescribed for a condition that is likely to resolve on its own.”
My real fear is _______. How concerned should I be? Ask your primary care physician about anything related to your health. For instance, if you Googled a finger numbness you may be worried about stroke or diabetes as a cause. However, a thorough exam and asking the right questions may easily differentiate serious conditions from something more benign like carpal tunnel syndrome. Be upfront with your fears. A patient may note intermittent abdominal discomfort, but what they are truly worried about is pancreatic cancer, because their neighbor was recently diagnosed. Once physicians know what’s really on your mind, they can address your concerns head-on.
Can we talk about end-of-life care? For the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, doctors like to hear more patients ask to discuss their wishes for end-of-life care, and to address advanced health care directives. Advanced directives include medical power of attorney for health care and living wills, which spell out choices such as whether you want interventions like CPR, mechanical ventilation, or tube feeding, and under what conditions. This can help ensure that your priorities are followed – whether that’s an aggressive means to prolong your life or comfort care when the time comes.
When should I come see you again? Doctor visits should be relegated to when you are well as when you are sick. Studies suggest that women tend to be more proactive about their health. Regular appointments and checkups inform that you’re living your healthiest life possible.
Can we discuss _______? A gynecological, urological or sexual issue. Even today, many people are still reluctant to discuss intimate health concerns. However, it’s hard to shock or surprise your doctor, who has likely heard it all. You’re probably not the only one having a problem with your issue. There is no need to mumble or use discreet euphemisms, just straight-up ask the question and ask it in the tone you normally would. Chances are if you use an offhand term, your doctor has heard about all the body parts with all kinds of different names. If you try to filter information form the doctor s/he may miss what you want to ask.
Is my personal odor or discharge normal? Dentists and dental hygienists are often asked: “Do I have bad breath?” and they’re prepared to give patients an honest answer, and follow up with solutions. Gynecologists say women are hesitant to ask about or describe their vaginal discharge. Your doctor won’t be put off. They want to hear this. Plus, you can dispel mystery and uncertainty, particularly if you’re walking around, thinking ‘I don’t know if this is right.’ Just tell the doctor what it is, and they can tell you if this is on real or not. As well, urologists want to hear from men about any type of discharge or symptoms of concern.