Anyone who knows me knows of my ongoing knee surgery saga. Doctor after doctor, treatment after treatment – it’s frustrating. I’m a healthcare advocate and it’s an exasperating experience for me. I can only pray for the people who need help navigating the healthcare system and don’t know where to begin.
I recently saw a new orthopedic surgeon because the one I have currently cannot seem to understand why I still have pain three months after my surgery. “Well, you don’t have anything wrong with you structurally,” he said. “I am unclear as to why you are in pain.” When you are in pain, you don’t want to hear that your doctor doesn’t know why. More frustration, and no avenues as to how to treat it.
So I called my insurance company to see if they covered second opinions. They did, and I made an appointment with the new one that my physical therapist recommended.
As the doctor walked in with an eager young intern, he introduced himself and shook my hand firmly. It seems like we talked for a while, he didn’t rush me at all. He took the time to ask me what I felt was wrong and give me his opinion about my knee issues. He gave me a new diagnosis and some new different avenues of treatment as well, instead of sitting there with a dumbfounded look on his face. He actually told me that I no longer need a surgeon, that I need a rehab doctor to follow my condition at this time.
Not only that, he asked about me. He wanted to know how my pain affected me and my lifestyle. What my pain kept me from doing. When he asked me about my career, I told him that I was a healthcare advocate. And do you know what he said?
“That’s just great. I meet so many patients that don’t speak up during their appointments because they are intimidated by me. I wish patients would ask the questions they need to and utilize me as their physician. If they don’t, then what happens?”
This plea is coming from a doctor. Physicians want active patients that want to take part in their care (at least the physicians without an ego). Prepare for your appointments and get the most out of them.
Here are some ways to prepare for your appointment and utilize your doctor:
- prepare your questions and concerns before your appointment
- make sure you bring a photo ID, your insurance card and any copayment
- speak with the doctor about your concerns and ask all the questions that you have
- let the doctor discuss with you what they think is going on
- if you are diagnosed with something, ask why that diagnosis was chosen
- if the doctor prescribes a medication for you, ask why that medication was chosen and about its potential side effects
- do not let fear or intimidation keep you from the goal of getting your best healthcare
Any doctor that you see should be happy that you are an active patient. If they’re not happy, then find another doctor that respects your opinion and wants to have you take in active role in your care.
Check out the ratings on your doctor at Healthgrades.com!