6 Things Doctors May Have Difficulties Telling You
Oftentimes, patients have difficulty talking to their physicians. It is hard for some to open up to doctors especially with regards to personal things or emotionally charged topics. Even doctors may find it uncomfortable to talk about certain things, an attitude that can affect the quality of health care they provide.
Patient-doctor communication is a complicated subject as both sides could be too emotional.
Some doctors are more capable of handling sensitive issues, while others may be too reluctant to speak about certain things that may impact their patients’ health.
So it’s better to know what your doctors may not want to tell you and what options you have.
The lack of need for certain medications
Pharmaceutical firms are using direct-to-consumer ads to entice patients to get prescriptions. Many anti-depressants and medications for diabetes and impotence are advertised this way. These ads can also get the attention of doctors themselves. So when patients demand for prescription for such drugs, some doctors are unlikely to refuse. Since medical practice is a private business, doctors always strive to please their patients as much as they can. Giving the prescription requested by patients is one of the practical ways to do so.
There is nothing wrong if you demand a prescription. However, you should leave everything up to your doctor when it comes to drug use. Do not be domineering and ask you doctor if taking the drug is really necessary.
Personal issues and lifestyles that affect health
There are doctors who refrain from giving medical advice if they feel that their patients would be offended. For instance, some doctors may abstain from telling their patients directly that they are too fat and they should adopt a healthy lifestyle. Other conditions or patient issues that may make physicians uncomfortable are drug abuse, marital problems, sexual abuse and monetary problems.
If you think that your doctor should be informed of such things, bring up the issue yourself. Do not wait for your doctor to ask you before you open up such issues. You ought to tell your doctor everything that could help him in providing you the best medical care.
Unknown or indefinite cause of illness
Doctors are unlikely to admit their uncertainty about the cause of a symptom. Despite the medical advances in modern time, the causes of many diseases remain unknown or hard to identify.
For instance, doctors often attribute back pain to anatomical problems, muscle disorder or enlarged spinal disk, however, the origin of back pain is often unknown.
Doctors have a strong reason for refusing to acknowledge their uncertainty. They are afraid of being perceived as incompetent if they do so. As a result, they may request for immediate diagnosis or treatments that are inappropriate or unnecessary.
To avoid unnecessary medical care, ask questions to your doctor. Know what will happen if you refuse the requested test or medication. Ask your doctor how the recommended treatment works. Do not agree to undergo a diagnostic or medical procedure unless you completely know what it is for. Keep probing until your doctor fully explains the risks, benefits and effectiveness of the procedure.
Risks involved in medical procedures
There are risks associated with any drug or medical procedure. Even common medications that seem harmless can trigger side effects. For instance, antibiotics could lead to diarrhea, allergic reactions, yeast infections and other adverse reactions.
However, some doctors underestimate the potential side effects of some treatments. Moreover, doctors often fail to explain the risks in complex medical tests like cardiac catheterizations, X-ray and other diagnostic imaging tests. The probability of having a false-positive outcome (a medical finding suggesting the occurrence of a disease contrary to fact) is seldom communicated to patients undergoing a diagnostic test. False-positive test results bring unnecessary agony and a string of inappropriate tests or treatments. Most doctors talk more of the positive rather than the negative sides of treatments.
You should always ask what are the risks involved in certain diagnostic test or medical procedure before taking it. It is the right of patients to be informed of the possible side effects of medical tests or operations to make an informed decision.
Getting the message through to patients
When doctors discuss to patients their medical condition, they fear that their patients do not understand everything well. Indeed, it is a valid concern. Studies showed that on average, patients only understand 50% of what their doctors said. However, it’s not always the patients’ fault. Doctors sometimes fail to communicate medical details clearly.
Doctors often discuss things in detail as if they are giving a lecture to medical students. When patients ask what diabetes is, they want to know how it would affect their daily life. Instead of giving a simple response, doctors often give a detailed discussion on the functions of pancreas, thus confusing the patients.
To effectively communicate medical details, physicians should give patients enough time to ask questions during the discussion. However, not all doctors do so. Most of them tend to ignore their patient’s understanding of their medical condition. Doctors seldom ask their patients if they do understand what they have just explained. There is a great need for doctors to effectively communicate medical information such as the causes of a disease and treatment options.
If you are having a hard time understanding what your physician is saying, ask him to repeat it. Tell your doctor that you need to fully understand his explanation. Then restate what your doctor said in your own words to check if you understand it right.
Lack of treatment or relief for life-threatening illnesses
Even if patients are afflicted with a life-threatening or terminal illness, some physicians refuse to acknowledge the lack of viable means to save them. Some even ask their patients to undergo risky treatments that are likely to fail. Doctors who do not know how to put limitations on their optimism end up bringing their patients under agonizing treatments that add up to their suffering.
Admitting the lack of cure could be problematic for doctors. Some worry that they would be blamed by the patients. To avoid false hope and unnecessary suffering from high-risk medical procedures, it is better if terminally-ill patients are informed about their fate.
Preparing for a terminal illness is also a good way to prevent false hope from aggravating a terminal condition. Patients whose disease is progressing could inform their doctors in advance about their preferred end-of-life care. Patients should decide whether they want their doctor to resort to extreme measures to save their life even if there is a little chance of success, or forgo life-support devices like feeding tube or ventilator. Giving such instructions will make it easy for physicians to make medical decisions.
Terminal-care instructions should also be given to relatives or loved ones in advance. It is better to appoint someone who can execute these instructions in the event that the patient becomes incapacitated.