Visiting the doctor has always been a fear for many — in fact, some may even take every possible pill and remedy known to man to avoid that conversation. In all honesty, the inhibition is rather understandable but completely unnecessary as a visit to the doctor can provide us with a more efficient solution to our ailment and hence, get us all good and new in no time.
While in the consultation room, communication with a physician is key to help them to diagnose the problem better. One of the most important things patients can do is advocate for themselves during treatment. Diagnostic errors or mistakes with treatment plans affect 1 in 20 adults each year, according to research published in the peer-reviewed journal The BMJ.
Here are some questions you should never be afraid to ask your doctor the next time you pay him a visit:
It is always best to ask your doctor “everything and anything”, particularly to clearly explain why he or she is taking a specific course of action or providing a diagnosis. This would also enable you to understand your symptoms better as well as know the doctors approach to treating it.
Ways you can Help Yourself
You can ask your doctor if there’s anything you can do to help yourself with the symptoms or feel comfortable at home. It will help you feel in control of your treatment plan and will improve your overall feeling about your visit
Can I refuse treatment?
One of the basic ethical principles of medicine is a term called autonomy. This is a patients right to refuse medical treatment. You should never be afraid to ask your doctor if you can refuse treatment, if its because youre afraid, not comfortable or simply because you lack the understanding of the treatment you are given. It is your doctors responsibility to effectively communicate your treatment to you until your consent is given. Special circumstances in which your autonomy can be bypassed however is instances where you are unable to understand and make the right decisions on your own behalf, such as when you are intoxicated, if you are a psychiatric patient, you are a hospice patient or if you are a child.
Can I get a second opinion?
When you go to the doctors, and they give you medical advice that is called a first opinion, when you go to another doctor about the same issue your have and they give you their own advice, whether it be the same advice or different from the first doctor you visited, that is called a second opinion. Asking your first doctor for a second opinion is a right you have and you should not feel worried about offending your doctor if you do so. You should not be afraid of discussing your second opinion with the first doctor you saw. Doctors are only human and can make mistakes too, or they may not have the knowledge about newer or better treatments available. Seeking a second opinion, third opinion or any amount of advice is always advisable and you should never have any hesitation about doing so.
Can I refuse an expensive test?
It is very common for a doctor to suspect an illness you have and order tests to be done to confirm what your doctor suspects you have, examples include blood tests, X-rays, CT scans, etc. These tests can sometimes be expensive. You are well within your rights to not only enquire the costs of the test, but to refuse testing to be done these tests can be out of your budget. Your doctor may then refuse to give you treatment, however you can go to another doctor for a second opinion and see if the tests need to be done. Most times these tests are far more expensive than the cost of a second opinion. Sometimes doctors can prescribe tests that are unnecessary. Your doctor should never be offended if you refuse a test he recommends.
For consultation on pregnancy or abortion if you are not married or underage
If you’re an underage girl and suspect you may be pregnant, you should never be afraid to go to the doctors and seek medical advice. In Malaysia, there is no law that prohibits this. Doctors will not report you to the police unless sexual violence against you is suspected or reported, such as instances of rape, torture or use of drugs. Doctors will give you advice on how to proceed. If you are underaged, tests that are to be carried out to confirm pregnancy will need approval from a parent or guardian; consultation however does not need parent or guardian approval. If you are underage and seek a doctors medical advice on pregnany or abortion, doctors will NOT inform your parents or guardians.
What are the side effects? Are there any other treatments or drugs that don’t have these side effects?
You should never be afraid to ask your doctor the side effects of your medicines. Some medicines that your doctor gives you can have side effects that may greatly affect the quality of your life and your overall happiness. While it is best to follow your doctors advice, you are well within your rights to be well informed about the way certain medicines can change your life. For examples some medicines can affect your mood, your energy, cause weight gain and etc. If a side effect of your medicine concerns you, you should never be afraid to ask your doctor if there are different medicines, that do the same thing, however do not have the side effects you do not want. As a patient, you have every right to a doctors patience in telling you everything you need to know about your treatment plan.
Seeking help for Addiction
As a patient you should never be afraid to tell your doctor about your recreational drug use or if you have an addiction to these drugs. You will not be reported to the authorities for consumption of drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, meth, heroin, LSD etc. If you feel like you have an addiction to these drugs and it affects your life negatively, your doctor will help you by giving you advice and possible treatment options on how to get you to stop using these drugs.