The standard of healthcare and longevity in the United States and worldwide is increasing with each passing year. People are living longer, and people and physicians must deal with multiple chronic medical conditions.
Dr. Munavvar Izhar says that the patient in a physician’s office starts with a complaint and is interrupted within the first 10 to 20 seconds by the physician. A New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) study reported this about a decade ago. It has been proven in multiple studies subsequently.
Izhar suggests that to overcome this, get a written agenda of the issues you want to discuss and hand a copy to the doctor at the beginning of the appointment. The doctor goes through that and then focuses his conversation on your needs and wants specifically.
Most of the time, the physicians speak to the patients with medical terminology, which most of the patients are not able to understand. If that is the case, you may want to bring a trusted friend or family member to take down the notes during the visit, or the other way Dr. Izhar suggests, is to repeat the explanation to the doctor in your own words as you have understood. This allows the doctor to see whether you have gotten anything wrong and if so, they will go over the plan again in simpler language.
Validate Your Pain & Experience
One in three patients or older adults have chronic pain and this makes daily tasks like walking and physical activity challenging due to discomfort and pain. No laboratory test quantifies pain, and is usually trivialized by doctors and is sometimes exaggerated by patients. Munavvar Izhar, MD suggests that the patient should express their concerns and quantify the pain appropriately and in fact bring along a spouse or a family member who can corroborate the extent of pain and validate it. Once patients’ pain is validated and confirmed by other family members, the physician feels more comfortable prescribing pain medications or Narcotics if needed.
Get a Second Opinion
Munavvar Izhar also mentions that a lot of times, patients feel that they are not getting better. If this is the situation, Dr. Izhar suggests that they should get a second opinion by a different physician in another medical center. A Journal of Mayo Clinic proceedings published in 2021 cites that getting a second opinion cuts the misdiagnosis rates in half. It is in the best interest of good patient care that if there is a need, a second opinion should be sought.
Request Timely Responses
Also, if your doctor doesn’t respond quickly, it is time to consider changing your doctor. The general rule of thumb is that for urgent matters, the doctor should respond within 12 to 24 hours, and for non-urgent matters, they should respond within 24 to 48 hours. If you see a trend of late responses, then it’s a red flag, and a provider change should be strongly considered.
Bring Printed Documents
Dr. Munavvar Izhar recommends that to get good patient care, the patient should print out their summaries from other consultants, which involves the plan of care, medications list, and provide it to the primary care physician so that they are aware, and they can take that into consideration while treating you as a patient. Remember, you must be an informed patient to get good care from your physician. Good patient care lies both with a physician and the patient.