When it comes to medical care, practically everyone has a story to tell, and not always a positive one. At some stage in their lives, most people find themselves disappointed by the level of care they receive. And in many cases, it leaves them feeling distressed. After all, what's more important than your health?
While the system itself is problematic, though, it doesn’t mean that patients are helpless. There are things that you can do right now to improve health outcomes when interacting with the medical sector. Here’s what you need to do to make sure that you get the best possible treatment.
Bring A Family Member With You
Sometimes it can be hard to advocate for yourself in a medical setting. If you are feeling sick or are in pain, then communicating all your needs to your doctor can be a challenge. It is all too easy for things to get overlooked.
That’s why it is such a good idea to go to the clinic or hospital with a family member. Take someone with you who can ask the right questions and make sure that you cover all bases. Having someone there as a witness also helps and may improve doctor accountability.
Share All The Medicines That You Currently Take With Your Provider
If you’re on medications, make sure that you share all the details with your physician. Failing to provide them with a complete list can lead to interactions with new drugs, leading to adverse side effects.
Your best bet is to take a full list of medications with you. Your pharmacist should be able to provide you with this. If they can’t, then just write down the names of the drugs and the amount that you take daily and hand it to your doctor. They will then prescribe the most suitable drugs for your condition.
Take Measures To Prevent Infection
While hospitals are supposed to be places that provide treatment, they can also pose severe infection risks. Having a large number of sick people in a confined space can be a recipe for disaster.
Therefore, if you enter a medical setting, always take precautionary measures. Wash your hands with soap and water regularly, and use alcohol sanitizers if available.
Ask Your Physician To Tell You What To Do To Care For Yourself At Home
Talk to your physician and ask them how you should take care of yourself at home once you leave the clinical setting. Ask them to provide information on:
- When you can resume your regular activities, such as sports, housework, and your job
- Their telephone number so that you can call them for clarifications and directions
- Your next follow-up appointment to ensure that your treatment plan is progressing well
If you can’t remember everything, ask a family member to come with you.
Be An Active Participant
The best patients are those who are active participants in their own health care. They take proactive steps to inform their doctor about everything to do with their treatment. For instance, they tell doctors about:
- Treatments they’ve tried in the past and whether they work or not
- Alternative therapies they have explored, such as herbal remedies, acupuncture, and diet
- Spiritual needs and requirements, particularly for terminal conditions
Remember, providers will sometimes make assumptions about the type of care that you want. To get the best treatment for you, you will need to tell them what you want.
Choose The Best Doctor For Your Condition
While all practicing doctors have basic medical training, specialists are far more expert in particular areas than regular general practitioners. If you have an unusual or serious condition, it is always better to work with a doctor with specific expertise in that area. For instance, if you have atrial fibrillation, seek out physicians with training and experience in that area. This way, you can get the most accurate diagnosis and prognosis, and the best advice on care.
Introduce Yourself And Provide Context
Physicians can sometimes rush to provide treatment based on what works for the “average patient.” Unfortunately, everyone is different, so what works for other people may not be effective for you.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to introduce yourself and provide context. Give your physician helpful information about who you are and your background. Let them know about any allergies or dietary requirements that you have, and your work-life – whether it is stressful or not. Also tell them if you have a history of mental health problems, particularly depression which can have knock-on health implications and impact the medications you take.
Research Your Medications
Regulators approve medications based on the idea that they do more good than harm, in general. However, it is still worth researching them extensively to find out exactly what they are doing to your body. Pills tend to target a specific mechanism but have multiple side effects. In many cases, these are benign, but sometimes they can be severe. Before taking drugs, you need to be sure about what you're letting yourself in for.
If you need to know more about your medications than the labels provide, speak to your pharmacist. They should be able to answer all your questions regarding when to take medicines, which foods, herbs, or drugs you need to avoid, and whether you can drink alcohol.
Ask If There Are Any Non-Drug Treatment Options
While some diseases require drugs, many do not. Therefore, it’s always worth asking whether there are ways that you can avoid medication and use alternative treatment options, such as diet and exercise.
Remember, the great thing about lifestyle changes is that they often deal with the underlying causes of disease, reversing them entirely. For instance, eating a whole-food, plant-based diet and combining it with walking and meditation has been shown to eliminate heart disease in almost all patients.
Most doctors will offer drugs first, but it is worth doing your own research. Find out if there are ways that you can avoid medication and treat your condition directly via lifestyle changes.