female doctor speaking to female patient in doctor's office

10 *More* Reasons Why You Should Be Your Own Advocate in the Doctor’s Office (Part II)

female doctor speaking to female patient in doctor's office

While your mom may be there to hold your hand at the doctor’s office well into adulthood (AND THERE’S NO SHAME IN THAT!), you are your own best advocate when you sit down to have a talk with your doc. 

1. You know your body.

Only you know if your heart flutters after exercise or if you have digestion problems. Another person cannot possibly know every ache and pain, and those details may be important to a diagnosis. The tiniest detail, provided by you, may narrow down a diagnosis and prevent even bigger problems. 

2. You need to be informed. 

Once you sit down with your doctor, you need to understand what they are telling you. If they bring up a body part or treatment option you don’t understand, you must ask what it means. Don’t rely on others to translate. You need to hear it directly from your doctor. 

3. You know your history. 

If you are an established patient, your physician may have a fairly accurate history. However, you may not have told them an important part of your surgical history or family history unless something makes you recall it. You have to be the person that communicates (if able) because only you know the intricate details your life. 

4. You have a choice.

Patient-centered care is all about choice, and you have the right to understand and approve any procedures. You cannot do this without being informed and active in your medical care. This is not to say don’t listen to your doctor, but if you don’t feel comfortable, there is nothing wrong with getting a second opinion. 

5. You chose your lifestyle. 

If you do not advocate for yourself, then you probably won’t make healthy decisions. Why get your blood pressure checked if you aren’t going to do anything if it is too high? Being your own advocate gets you involved in the process, and it forces you to take charge of your situation. 

6. You need to focus on prevention or treatment. 

Focusing on what to do next is nearly impossible if you aren’t your own advocate. If you aren’t involved in the medical process, you will not be able to adequately focus on prevention or treatment. This could be as minimal as neglecting to take a multivitamin or as crucial as taking too many beta-blockers, which could be deadly. 

7. You need to take control. 

Especially if you find a medical problem, life can seem hopeless if you aren’t your own advocate. You may feel completely out of control of your destiny. Being your own advocate empowers you to take control of the situation and focus on recovery. 

8. You can only depend on yourself. 

Sure, you may have a very dependable friend or family member, but you can only depend on yourself when it comes to your healthcare. Having someone with you is not a bad idea if you are comfortable and have the right sort of person, but don’t let that let you become complacent. Remember: This is about you, and you need to depend on yourself. 

9. You know what you want. 

One of the most important reasons to be your own advocate in your healthcare is that you are the only person who truly knows what you want. If you want to lower your cholesterol, listen to your doctor. If you want to lose weight, your doctor will have good resources. You have to choose what you want out of the appointment, and nobody else can do that for you. 

10. You want your appointment to be complete. 

Lastly, you want your appointment to completely alleviate any concerns. Don’t go home wishing you had asked your doctor an embarrassing question. Trust me, they’ve heard worse. Write down your questions, and have the courage to ask them. As your own advocate, you will feel satisfied when leaving the doctor’s office knowing that you covered everything.

To learn more about different healthcare topics that can help you take charge of your own healthcare, visit the Avidity Medical Design blog.

6 Questions You Should Ask At Your Next Doctor’s Appointment

doctor speaking to patient in medical office

Have you ever come home from a doctor’s appointment and realized you forgot to ask something? Maybe you didn’t understand why your doctor ordered a lab test or prescribed a medication. In the U.S., the average doctor’s appointment lasts 20 minutes, so it’s important to come prepared. To make the most of your next visit, ask your doctor these six questions:

1. Is my medication list up to date?

A nurse or a medical assistant may ask you if your medications are up to date in your medical record, but don’t count on them to do so. Give them the information if they don’t ask. Come prepared with a list of all of your medications, OTC and prescribed, as well as any supplements that you take, such as vitamins. Be sure to include prescriptions from other doctors, so that contraindicated medications are not mixed.

2. Am I current on my immunizations?

Once we reach adulthood, it’s easy to forget about immunizations. Taking into consideration your age, your travel plans, and other factors, your doctor can recommend the right immunizations for you. 

3. Are you aware of my drug allergies?

If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medication, it’s important that this information is in your medical record. If you have a medical emergency, you would not want to be given a medication that you are allergic to, or that might cause have other side effects.

4. What blood or lab tests should I have performed?

Factors like your age, gender, and family history are considered when your doctor orders lab tests. Ask your doctor what tests you need to have performed now. If you don’t understand the purpose of a test, ask your doctor to explain it to you. 

5. Why are you prescribing this medication?

Your doctor may decide to prescribe a new medication, or change the dosage of an existing medication. Make sure you understand why you are taking the medication, and how long you will be on it.

6. Can I see a copy of my medical records?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA law, guarantees that you have access to your medical records and those of your minor children. If you receive healthcare at different clinics, each clinic may have a different procedure for requesting your medical records. Your medical record contains a lot of information, and you need to know how to interpret it. Avidity Medical Design Academy offers a course entitled, “How to Read Your Own Medical Record (Learn What is in YOUR Medical Files!).” This course teaches important information that you should know in order to understand what is being entered into your medical record. You will also learn how to read your medical record, and how to report any errors or omissions that you find. Visit the Avidity Medical Design Academy homepage to learn more about this course.