My friend Carol, 70, hates wearing glasses. But when she asked her ophthalmologist about contact lenses, he scoffed, “You’re too old to be vain.” Gentle by nature and of a generation raised to regard a physician’s word as law, Carol dropped the subject — then dropped the doctor, too.
I doubt that most doctors are as churlish as Carol’s, yet too often their answers to patients’ questions are incomplete or incomprehensible. To get the information that you need…
Before your appointment, make a list of everything you want to discuss. That way, you won’t forget to mention a seemingly small but potentially significant symptom — and you’re less likely to decide on the spot to skip over a sensitive topic.
Take notes…or, with the doctor’s permission, record the conversation (some cell phones have a record function) to review later, as needed.
Ask for clarification — of medical jargon, your diagnosis and prognosis, the need for a drug being prescribed, test results — or anything else you don’t fully understand.
Request a response by E-mail or phoneafter office hours if the doctor doesn’t have time during your visit to answer all of your questions. Or ask if a nurse practitioner is qualified and available to talk… or book another appointment for a consultation.
Best: If your doctor is brusque, dismissive or makes you feel foolish or intimidated, go elsewhere for your health care. You have a right to be treated with dignity.