How do you differentiate between a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ doctor? How do you know if the diagnosis presented is accurate, or if the options presented are the best ones? How do you know if your doctor or surgeon suits your needs?
I am sure questions such as these go through the mind of every chronic illness patient. It took me 10 years of trial and error to present you this list; some of the lessons have left permanent scars. I hope it helps with your own decision making process.
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1. The Right Doctor is Similar to a Good Friend
They listen. You should be comfortable communicating with them. They should never brush off or laugh at any of your concerns, especially if it is affecting your life a great deal. He or she has to take your pain seriously, be it physical or psychological, and treat you with respect. They should never belittle you, or make you feel as if it’s all in your mind and that you are just being silly.
2. Always Seek a Second Opinion
This is the most important lesson I have ever learned, in relation to selecting a suitable doctor. It is surprising how different their opinions can be, and every doctor has new insight to offer. Often, there are more treatment options than just one. I once had a gynaecologist tell me that I had no choice but to remove my entire cervix. The extremity of this suggestion was appalling to another specialist I consulted.
So if you do not trust the opinion of your doctor, want to seek alternatives, or want extra confirmation – get another opinion. It is worth every penny you’ve got.
3. Listen to Your Instinct
This might be obvious to some, and takes a bit more work for others. If you are like me, I tend to become paralysed until I have assessed all the pros and cons, and obsessed over all details. I am learning how to listen to and trust that little voice inside of me again. More often than not, it already knows what’s best for me.
Believe in your judgement. If that little voice is telling you that your doctor doesn’t care or isn’t interested, it’s probably right, and you want to stay away from them like the plague. Why does this matter? Because they should be treating you as an individual, and not a job number pending dismissal from a list. If you are being treated as the latter, it’s likely that your case isn’t getting the attention that it needs. The chances of a mistake that you might regret for life goes up.
4. Communication and Collaboration
Chronic illnesses are never an isolated problem. Patients often have to keep up with an assortment of doctors from different departments, covering them from brain to bone. When you visit a specialist, they tend to look for and treat only specific issues related to their field. Yet your body functions as a single entity, and one thing always leads to another.
I have found that the best doctors I have and still have, are those who are willing to communicate or collaborate with each other. For example, my rheumatologist takes the time and initiative to communicate with my heart rhythm specialist. Together they discuss the best course of treatment to take in relation to both issues.
One of the best healthcare experiences I have ever had was at the Cleveland Clinic. It was impressive how aware everyone was, from the counter staff to the doctors and surgeons, on why you were there and what for. Their specialists get together to discuss the best solution to a patient’s problem. With a dozen brilliant minds put together, this can only be beneficial. I remember thinking to myself, ‘so this is how good management is like.’ To learn more about their system, this book written by Toby Cosgrove, their managing director, has some great insight. Keyword – collaboration.
5. Mentor More than Boss
And finally, at the end of the day, it’s your life and you can choose to live it however you wish. As with everything else, all you have to do is deal with the consequences of your choices.
A good doctor should be more like a mentor and less like a boss. He or she should never tell you how to live your life, but should be there to warn you of potential pitfalls and guide you towards the right health path. They will never be in your shoes – you have to walk in them by yourself.
After all, what’s the point to life if you’re not allowed to live it?
“Doctors pour drugs of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, into human beings of which they know nothing.” – Voltaire
“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
*Note: Always be sure to check with your doctor before you start on any new treatment or protocol to ascertain suitability.
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- For More Insight:
- 10 Reasons to Fire Your Doctor (fedupwithfatigue.com): https://goo.gl/eTw4rt
- How to Find Your Soul Doctor (rawlsmd.com): https://goo.gl/T42edD
- How to find the right doctor to treat your chronic illness (chronicmom.com): http://bit.ly/2zRBGvB