That’s a question that is asked of me frequently…. out of all the topics relating to empowering patients to take charge of their own healthcare, what would be the most important piece of advice I could give them?
The answer is easy: never stop asking questions.
You accomplish so much if you just keep asking them. Here are some of the ways:
1. If you keep asking questions of yourself, you will keep yourself engaged. Does my arm really ache more today than it did yesterday? Am I prepared enough for my doctor’s appointment? Did I remember to take my pills this morning?
2. If you keep asking questions of your doctor, at least three things will happen. First, your doctor will learn how engaged you are in the process of getting back to ‘well’. Second, your doctor will respect you because you are so engaged. Third, you will be confirming what your doctor says and does, which will keep him/her from making mistakes (or at least will cut down on the number of mistakes that could be made.)
3. If you keep asking questions during research about a medical problem you are having, you will be more empowered through learning about your problem. Understanding why something went wrong in your body, or understanding how it happened, and understanding the possibilities of how it can get fixed and why that might work will go a long way toward helping your health to improve.
4. Confusion gets in the way of getting healthy. If your doctor uses words you don’t understand, then ask their meaning. If the doctor or one of her staff members tells you to go for a test, and you don’t understand why you need that test and/or what it will (or won’t) prove, then ask. If there is a charge on your bill that you don’t understand, ask. Don’t allow confusion to make you feel worse than you already do.
Continually asking questions will help you feel like you are taking command of your health challenge. And taking command is one way of feeling empowered. When you think you’ve asked all the questions you have, ask one more!
Wise patients know that their questioning will go a long way toward helping them find their best medical outcomes.