The first in a weekly five-part series by Tiffany Matthews, BSW, MJ, Contributor
Anyone who knows me knows of my ongoing knee surgery saga. Doctor after doctor, treatment after treatment – it’s frustrating. I’m a healthcare advocate and it’s an exasperating experience for me. I can only pray for the people who need help navigating the healthcare system and don’t know where to begin.
I recently saw a new orthopedic surgeon because the one I have currently cannot seem to understand why I still have pain months after my surgery. “Well, you don’t have anything wrong with you structurally,” he said. “I am unaware as to why you are in pain.” When you are in pain, you don’t want to hear that your doctor doesn’t know why. More frustration, and no avenues as to how to treat it.
So I called my insurance company to see if they covered second opinions. They did, and I made an appointment with the new one that my physical therapist recommended.
As the doctor walked in with an eager young intern, he introduced himself and shook my hand firmly. It seems like we talked for a while, he didn’t rush me at all. He took the time to ask me what I felt was wrong and give me his opinion about my issues. He gave me a new diagnosis and some new different avenues of treatment as well, instead of sitting there with a dumbfounded look on his face. He actually told me that I no longer need a surgeon, that I need a rehab doctor to follow my condition at this time.
Not only that, he asked about me. He wanted to know how my pain affected me and my lifestyle. What my pain kept me from doing. When he asked me about my career, I told him that I was a healthcare advocate. And do you know what he said?
“That’s just great. I meet so many patients that don’t speak up during their appointments because they are intimidated by me. I wish patients would ask the questions they need to and utilize me as their physician. If they don’t, then what happens?”
This plea is coming from a doctor. Physicians want active patients that want to take part in their care (at least the physicians without an ego). Prepare for your appointments and get the most out of them.
Here are some ways to prepare for your appointment and utilize your doctor:
Any doctor that you see should be happy that you are an active patient. If they’re not happy, then find another doctor that respects your opinion and wants to have you take an active role in your care.
Tiffany Matthews, BSW, MJ, is a Writer, Social Worker & Healthcare Advocate at Live Better Boomer! Healthcare Access & Advocacy Services, in the greater Philadelphia area. You can also connect with her on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.