Doctors are busier than ever. They consistently have a large work-load, and spend most of their day with patients. However many patients say they don't get enough one-on-one time with their physician. And they have a legitimate argument. While the average doctor does spend the majority of his/her work day with patients, doctors are increasingly buried in paperwork. That's why an average doctor spends 45-percent of the day on administrative duties.
The average doctor, according to a survey by WebMD, spends between 13-15 minutes with a patient. Depending on the health needs, that may not be enough time. However a doctor is more likely to spend more time with you if you know the right questions to ask. Obviously, your questions depend on your health needs. But there are a few general questions that you should always ask your doctor when you show up for a visit that will ensure you understand and have the best information on your health.
Believe it or not, your doctor wants questions. While studies may show that doctor's are on a major time constraint, don't feel bad for them. Your questions actually make their job easier, because they can get further insight into your lifestyle and body. You should start to build your own list of questions based on your medical needs. But you should always ask the following questions during an exam:
I researched my symptoms, what do you think? Most people (using sites like WebMD or Google) are coming to the doctor's office with an understanding of what is wrong with them. However, as I've found, research doesn't equal diagnosis. When I went in for knee pain recently, I was sure they were going to have to slice me open and clean out some junk. Turns out it was just normal wear and tear. But the research I found said the opposite. So understand that your symptoms will be unique to you, and asking will allow your doctor to explain in more specific details what is wrong with you.
What is this test for? Most general tests are to check your overall health (like a blood pressure test), but ask if you aren't sure what you are being tested for. Believe it or not, doctors won't explain much to you without some prodding. Understand the tests so you can better understand the diagnosis.
What are my alternatives? Doctors know how to treat everything from the common cold to more serious health issues. However there is usually more than one way to cure a medical problem. Don't hesitate to ask if there are alternative options available. For example, sometimes you need surgery for a health problem, but a doctor may be willing to give medicine a chance before going forward with surgery. For more serious health needs, always get more than one consultation to weigh your options.
What should I improve on for my next visit? Doctors may give you suggestions to improve your health, but if not, ask them what you can work on. Is your blood pressure a little higher than normal? Ask what steps you can take in your daily life to lower it. Talking with your doctor about what you can control will give you concrete goals to improve your overall health.
What can I do to prevent this from happening again? Sometimes we catch the flu from someone. It happens and there's very little we can do about it in a connected society. But prevention is the best way to keep coming back to the doctor. I talked with my doctor when he looked at my knee and he told me different physical exercises that I could to do strengthen the knee so it wouldn't bother me as much.
Why am I taking this medication? Some people feel over-medicated. It's true that some doctors can be quick to prescribe a drug when there are other options available. Ask your doctor about the importance of the medication you are taking so you can understand why it is necessary. Being open about your treatment will help you recover faster.
What do you do for your personal health? Doctors are always willing to offer their personal advice. A physician that practices what they preach will offer a wealth of information on how you can stay healthy. A great, healthy doctor can be a physician, personal trainer and nutritionist all rolled into one person.
What is your experience with this issue? Don't worry about hurting a doctor's ego when asking about experience. Medical costs are one of the largest expenses that Americans have, so you want to be comfortable with the person in charge of your health. Asking about your doctors experience ensures you are getting the best care for your health. Keep in mind, however, at teaching hospitals you will be in the care of some of the best young doctors in the business, with plenty of oversight.
Are there side effects? Today's modern medicine seems to come with a laundry list of side effects. We've all seen the commercials for drugs that offer a large collection of things that may make your health a whole lot worse. Talk with your doctor about what medicine you are taking and how it can affect your body. Ask your doctor if the medication will have effects on other medication you are taking, where applicable.
What is the best way for me to lose weight? Weight issues are at epidemic levels in the United States. For most people a diet change may be the answer. For others they need to be more active. But your situation may be health-related. If you have been trying, and struggling to lose weight, it's time for a good conversation with your doctor. They may be able to treat you medically to improve your long term odds or losing weight.
Always remember the best doctor will be happy to communicate with you in a way that you understand. While doctors are busier than ever, the doctor that you want to treat you will be able to talk with you and spend some time working with you to improve your health. Never settle for a doctor that makes you feel rushed. For more health tips please follow us on Twitter.
By: Ron Schaberg
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