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Tips for Being Your Own Medical Advocate

By Randi Morse 

Recently I spent an unanticipated eight days at a large hospital due to complications from surgery. I learned a great deal during this amount of time, but one of the biggest things I learned is that, as a patient, you truly need to be your own advocate. I know that this can be hard for people, it can be intimidating to try to speak up or ask questions of extremely trained and skilled doctors and surgeons. Here are a few tips that may help you become your best advocate. 

Write the Questions Down 

I can't stress this one enough: write your questions down. Once you start talking with your doctor you may find yourself wondering off topic and completely forgetting to ask your physician the questions that you may have already formulated. Before you go into your doctor's office or, if you're in the hospital, before your physician visits you in the morning, make a list of any and all of the questions that you have. 

No Question is Stupid 

One thing that prevents people from asking questions of their physicians is that they feel the questions they're going to ask will be viewed as stupid. No question is a stupid question. It's important to remember that doctors are not all-knowing and all-powerful, sometimes they need to discover the answers right along with you. Also, any good doctor will never make you feel silly for asking a question no matter how simple the question may seem to you. 

Respect and Command Respect 

If you have a physician you trust, it's important that you give them the respect that they deserve. Doctors go through years and years of training in order to be skilled at their craft. That being said, make sure they respect you as a patient as well. At one point during my stay I looked at my doctor, whom I trust greatly, and told him that I felt he and his team did not have my back. He seemed shocked and a little hurt and after a discussion we realized that I felt this way because a lot of the conversations about my medical treatment were being done behind my back After we had this conversation, my doctor started including me in the loop of information which made me feel better and gave me much more confidence in my doctor and the treatment options presented to me.  

Never feel bad, or stupid, for any questions you need to ask of your physician. I can assure you that no matter what question you ask, it's very likely that they've been asked it before. You truly are your best advocate, but don't be afraid to ask for help from your nurses or your doctor as well. 

 To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Hutto, Tex.

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