Seeking medical care is a vulnerable situation. You know there is a problem with your health, and no matter how much research you do beforehand or how articulate you may be in your daily life, you may still find yourself pointing to the affected area while trying to describe the pain.
After exams, tests and diagnosis, you find yourself in a situation similar to when you came in. There’s a professional standing in front of you describing a treatment you do not understand. No matter how long your treatment plan is going to be, you should still walk away from the conversation with an understanding of what to expect.
Here’s what you should understand before leaving the doctor’s office.
Doctors must also be teachers
When they go off to medical school, future doctors often talk about desires to help people or the mystery of diagnosis. Although those are significant parts of being a doctor, one of the most important roles is education.
A doctor cannot possibly distill years of medical training into a conversation about your treatment, but they should be able to explain the risks associated with what will happen next. If you do not understand the risks, ask for more resources so that you can make a better decision.
The line between risky and unpleasant
Every treatment or medication has a risk. Some may be relatively harmless, but others will have harsh side effects, or leave you vulnerable to infections.
Understanding what to expect is why education is essential before leaving the doctor’s office. When you go home, you will need to know what to expect and what means that your condition is getting worse. Make sure you get a clear understanding from your doctor when you should call because the treatment is not working or there is another potential problem.