It has come to my attention that a strange thing has happened to health care consumers. Some of us have gone beyond a healthy respect for the expertise of the medical community. We believe that medicine is absolute and certain, even flawless. But like anything in life, few things are based on absolute truth and certainty, and many things once thought to be true we now look back on with disbelief. For this reason, it is always healthy and wise to investigate things for yourself, especially when it comes to your own health.
Too often doctors are offended by inquisitive patients who want to know the risks involved in their treatments or perhaps about alternatives. Many of us are sadly intimidated by our practitioners and follow whatever directions we get, regardless of any doubts we may have or discomforts. We live with the side effects, swallow the pills and hope for the best.
Sadly, many consumers have totally disempowered themselves, not realizing that many answers reside within their own awareness of their bodies and that alternative approaches and opinions do exist, both within the confines of conventional medicine and beyond it. I frequently hear patients telling me “I had no choice” when relaying to me the inevitable need to take medications recommended by a doctor.
Of course it is prudent to take your doctors expertise seriously. At the same time, I would like to put things into a different perspective. You are ultimately responsible for your healthcare. Health care providers have a responsibility to educate you about your current state of health, available treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits. Unfortunately, most people are presented with a prescription rather than being educated and having any sense of a choice. Never assume that one practitioner’s approach is necessarily best for you. Demand to see a description of the suggested medication from the Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties, a copy of which may be found in any general practitioners office. Ask about alternatives.
I am not suggesting you ignore sound medical advice nor am I suggesting that anyone should automatically dismiss medical drugs. I am suggesting that at the very least you should feel entitled to ask questions about the chosen treatments, to be well informed about their side effects and to seek second opinions if you choose to. You should expect willingness from your practitioner to provide you with complete and clear information without having to feel you are stepping on their toes.
Don’t feel intimidated to meet with a number of practitioners and ask them questions in order to gage their receptivity to inquisitive and responsible patients. A doctor and patient relationship is probably one of the most important ones you will have so don’t take it lightly. Just like in any relationship, if the chemistry is not there, politely move on.