Your health is the most important thing you have. Without it exists the potential to lose out on many other important things in life, like participating in the activities you enjoy or spending time with your loved ones. It’s why you get yearly check-ups, seek out specialists when problems arise, and frankly, pay big bucks to make sure you’re getting the best care you can.
Health care providers play an essential role in helping us to maintain our health or recover from injury or illness after an accident. However, you mustn’t forget another important person in the exam room: yourself. You must remember that you are part of a team and that your thoughts and options are valid and important in your healthcare journey.
The best way to make sure you get everything you need out of your care is to become your own best advocate for your health. While doctors are trained in the skills of what often seems like super-human healing abilities, the reality is, they’re normal humans, just like you. And sometimes, humans need a little more attention brought to the way they do things. That goes for doctors too.
Don’t Assume They Know Everything
Doctors may come across as magical beings that possess wisdom and knowledge for the ages, and we certainly hope they do when it comes to medical practices. But even though your doctor can diagnose and treat a plethora of injuries and illnesses, they can’t read mind!
Never just assume your doctor knows what you’re thinking or how you’re feeling. If you feel pain or another physical ailment of some kind, bring it to their attention, no matter how seemingly insignificant. They can’t treat what they aren’t aware of.
The same goes for your emotional standards too. Your doctor-patient relationship should be open, honest, and trusting. You should feel like you can touch upon the most sensitive health-related subjects with them and be treated with care and respect in response.
If your doctor operates in a way that feels uncomfortable or disrespectful to you, don’t be afraid to mention it. This applies to something as broad as their general bedside manner or as specific as rushing through exams.
Your doctor may not be aware that they are behaving in a way that makes you uncomfortable or unsure, so don’t always assume it’s intentional. Make your feelings known. Any respectable physician will be open to discussing these issues with you and finding a way to right them.
Ask Them Plenty of Questions
While the expert advice of trained professionals is undoubtedly valuable, the best way to advocate for yourself is to ask questions when they come up—even if they seem silly. Better yet, write your questions down before you get to your doctor’s office so that you don’t forget what they are.
If your doctor makes a diagnosis, respectfully ask what leads them to believe that’s the answer. If they decide to put you on a new medication, ask them specifics about what the drug does and what to expect while you’re on it. If they choose to run a series of tests, ask them questions about what those tests entail and what they hope to see from the results. When the results come in, ask your doctor to walk you through them in layman’s terms.
Rely on your doctor to make sound medical decisions for you, but be active in that process by making sure you understand why these decisions are being made. That way, you’ll feel much more comfortable with adhering to them—or not. And remember: your doctor should be able to answer most of your questions. If they don’t have a satisfactory answer, it may be wise to seek a second opinion.
Arm Yourself with Information
Just as asking your doctor questions can help you better understand your care, equipping yourself with relevant information about your symptoms and treatment is a great way to make sure you advocate for what you need and want. We always recommend researching the information your doctor gives you to further learn how it pertains to your care. Just be sure you are gathering information from reputable and ethical sources. Pro Tip: if a website pushes a treatment or recommends self-diagnosis without a doctor present, run and run fast!
No one likes to be told how to do their job, and that shouldn’t be your goal when you collect information about your injury or illness. Instead, arming yourself with information means making sure you thoroughly understand your doctor’s recommendations, as well as have the information they need to make those recommendations. For example, some great information to bring to your doctor is a log or journal of your health. Keeping track of how you’re feeling or healing week by week can give them some great insights into your particular care, leading to a plan truly tailored to you.
Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away
Sometimes, advocating for yourself may not work. You may give your doctor all the information you have, bring up all the questions and concerns you can think of, and still they don’t practice their care for you in a way you feel comfortable with. This can be especially true in cases where a doctor insists on treatment that just doesn’t feel right to you.
Suppose ongoing treatment doesn’t seem to have the timely results you expected, or your doctor is jumping around to different therapies and medications with abandon. In that case, they may not have your best interests at heart. And if your doctor is reluctant to even discuss other options or ways of working together, then they may not be the best health advocate for you.
You should never feel pressured to adhere to treatment or care you don’t believe is working for you. That being the case, you have every right to walk away and find a new doctor. Even if you just aren’t clicking emotionally with your doctor in a way you feel is necessary, don’t be afraid to explore other options available to you.
But, be wary of looking for a “yes” doctor. The goal isn’t to find a doctor you can control and agrees with everything you want and say. That may do more harm than good. The goal is to find a physician who is part of your team and help guide you through the recovery process.
Don’t Give Up on Your Health
While you have every right to walk away from a doctor who isn’t fulfilling your unique needs, choosing to walk that path should never lead to a dead-end where you just stop seeing a doctor altogether. This is especially true for those who’ve suffered personal injuries and are trying to build a case for receiving compensation from the negligent party who caused the injuries. If you don’t continue advocating for yourself in an effort to heal, no insurance company, judge, or jury is going to believe you need the compensation you’re seeking.
But best legal practices aside, your number one concern should be making sure you recover from your injuries or other ailments. And that comes from seeking out the support you need to achieve just that. Don’t let one bad experience keep you from looking to other doctors for help. There’s a doctor out there who not only knows the ins and outs of how to treat you but wants to do it in the way that works best for you. And while these doctors can be great advocates for you, the very best advocate for your health is always yourself
Posted Under: Personal Injury