WOW | Heart Health

How to get the best from your Doctor?

It is obvious that a lot of effort and trust is needed while looking for an appropriate doctor for yourself or your family. You might be choosing a doctor on someone’s recommendation or you might have read his/her name in a magazine or watched him/her on T.V. Many patients might know nothing more about their doctor. One should make some effort to know what training or qualification the doctor has. The choice of the initial doctor is entirely yours. Once you have chosen, you should avoid changing your doctor frequently. In general, a doctor who you have been seeing regularly will have a strong sense of responsibility about your health.

Role of general practitioner (GP) /family physician
In today’s fast moving world and media coverage, we all have tendency to directly visit  a specialist. This might not be the best thing to do. There is a great role of your GP/ family physician. A general physician will understand you better as he has seen you since long. He knows your family history. He may assess you on whole and guide you as and when you need to see a specialist. If you can choose one good physician for yourself and your family, then you do not need to know all the specialists! This doctor of yours will take entire responsibility and will help you in choose the right specialist if and when you need one.

Know Your Disease
You should know your disease well. Do not shy away from the facts. Know the facts about your disease and accept them. Many diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes or heart diseases have no real permanent cure. Yet, you can keep it under control and live a good quality life.

If you think you might forget to ask, you can make a list of questions and ask your doctor. Try not to learn too many things from the media, internet, friends or relatives. Your doctor knows your disease well and will be happy to satisfy all your doubts. He has undergone many years of training for this exact reason!

How often should you see your doctor
You should ask your doctor when you need to come for the next visit. Even if there are no new problems or symptoms, it is advisable to keep a regular follow up. Ask your doctor what is the best way for communication: telephone, email, mobile, text messages, etc. Avoid asking for medical advice during parties, social events or on the phone. Do not expect your doctor to know your entire medical history while taking your call. Small errors might be risky for your health. If you are not feeling well then better go to the emergency room of a nearby hospital with all your previous files and medicines and inform your doctor.

Your medication
You should know your medication, dosage, actions and possible side effects. Most medications for heart diseases and other conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are for life and thus it is important that you know them well. Also, you shouldn’t stop or change them without consulting your doctor. If your appointment is postponed and you are running out of your stock of drugs you should purchase a refill. You should carry your prescription to the pharmacy to purchase the drugs. Since we don’t have strict regulations for the sale of drugs, we have a tendency of going to shop without the prescription and serious mistakes can occur. During a follow up visit, it is a good idea to periodically cross-check the medicines with your doctor. It is very important that your doctor knows precisely all the drugs you are taking.

Your local doctor
Even if you have needed treatment outside your city, it is crucial that you go back to your local doctor and keep him updated. At the time of any emergency you will need your local doctor’s support. You might give the contact details of the specialist doctor and make them discuss your condition if the need arises.

Your financial state
Medical science unfortunately has become very expensive today. Because of lack of health insurance, the financial aspect of the treatment is of great importance. You should not shy away from taking your financial capacity up with the treating doctor. There may be options of cheaper methods of treatment and economic public hospitals. Your doctor can guide you appropriately. Very expensive strategies can be avoided if finances are limited.

Need a second opinion?
It is natural to feel little scared if a surgery has been advised. You may not be completely satisfied after seeing a doctor. In such situation it is advisable that you frankly share your feelings with your doctor. Ask him to suggest another expert. It is perfectly legitimate to seek a second opinion. It is your right to satisfy yourself completely. While choosing another doctor it is imperative that you do not select a lesser qualified expert. Also remember it is a natural tendency to like/look for a doctor who says that a particular procedure is not needed. While taking an alternative opinion can be satisfying and reinforcing, too many opinions can be confusing and can cause delay in the vital treatment that you may need.

*Trust plays a crucial role in medicine. Unfortunately both sides are mostly apprehensive these days. A good relationship between doctor and patient can be very rewarding for both.

Dr Bharat Rawat is MD, DM, FAPSIC, FACC, FSCAI, Senior Interventional Cardiologist at the Greater Kailash Hospital in Indore, India. Prior to this he served with Norvic International Hospital Nepal as Chief of Cardiology. He may be contacted on 0091-9717783168.