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How Much Do You Trust Your Doctor?

The importance of trusting your doctor

When you are in the middle of a medical emergency, it's important to trust your doctor. But do you have blind faith that he will do what is best for you or do you ever question your doctor? I'm not talking about doubting him; I'm just saying if he or she says you need medicine or surgery, do you accept that or do you ask questions?

Ask Your Doctor the Health Questions You Have

When you were told you have high blood pressure, your doctor may have given you a prescription, and it's possible he may have told you some things that you can do along with those medications.
Sometimes, whether the doctor is just too busy or he's just so used to prescribing the medication for high blood pressure,  he may not have taken much time to answer your medical questions.
Communicate with your doctor
What I want you to know is that you shouldn't be afraid to ask questions, such as, 
  • "Do I really need this? 
  • "Is there something else I can do to bring my numbers down?" 
  • Or maybe ask, "What are the side effects of this medicine?" or...
  • "What should I expect?" or...
  • "How soon should I see results?" 
Since you're already reading this, I'm betting you may have asked those questions, at least to yourself.

If he or she says you absolutely need the medicine, take it! But also be aware there are other things you can do to help yourself out in addition to the medicine.

Second Opinions Can Change Lives or Give Peace of Mind

Don't be afraid to get a second opinion. What really drew me into this subject today was the article that was in the AZ Republic on June 23, 2013. (Yes, I'm a little backlogged in my reading!)

The article was about a young 22 year old semipro baseball player, Jonathan Stelly, who had a fainting spell. He went to a cardiologist for tests, and was told if he wanted to live to the age of 30, he needed a pacemaker.

Communicate with your doctorStelly had plans to turn pro, but this sidelined that dream. He had the surgery. But months afterward he found out Mehmood Pael, his cardiologist, was under investigation for doing unnecessary surgeries. The doctor ended up being imprisoned for billing Medicare for those unnecessary surgeries.

When he heard about this, Stelly started getting the opinions of other doctors and found that every other doctor said all he would have needed was blood pressure medication. Now, his pacemaker is turned off, but is still in his body. Stelly's dream of being a pro in baseball blown to smithereens!

It's Okay to Have Questions for a Doctor

I know for some, especially for those in one of the older generations, it can be hard to question a doctor. I didn't realize how hard it could be until a few years ago when my parents were talking to me on the phone about their new doctor. They didn't like him for some reason, but the doctor they had been going to for years wasn't available any longer.

I remember saying to them, "Well, why don't you look for another doctor that is closer that you might like better?" I'll never forget their joint reply: "He won't let us switch!" I actually couldn't believe that this doctor had that kind of hold over my parents, who were very well educated. They just had a really high respect for doctors; so much so that they felt they couldn't change doctors even for their own health and convenience.

Signs you can trust your doctor

When to Get a Second Opinion

According to the Department of Managed Healthcare in California, second opinions should be covered by your health insurance. If you're not sure that's true with your insurance, a quick phone call can confirm whether that's true or not in your instance.

The criteria for a health plan covering your second opinion are:

  • If the doctor's diagnosis of your medical issue isn't clear
  • If your doctor recommended surgery and you're not confident it's necessary
  • When your doctor hasn't cleared up any doubts about your treatment
  • Your treatment just is not working
  • If your doctor will not change a prescription medication that is giving bad side effects - (just my opinion, not official!)

Even if you're in the middle of treatment for high blood pressure or anything related to your healthcare, if something just doesn't seem quite right or is a drastic change for you, get another opinion. If your doctor is right, then you will have peace of mind.

Second Opinions Can Actually Teach The Doctor! 

When my son had surgery back in 2009 (busy year for us,) everything seemed to be going along swimmingly with one exception. The incision just wouldn't heal completely. Week after week and month after month, we made regular visits to the surgeon. He was a good surgeon, rated one of the top 10 in Phoenix at the time. He would put the silver nitrate on the incision with the q-tip almost every time, but the wound refused to heal.

Finally, after my son had missed a semester of high school, (the school was letting him do work at home to keep up) and we were getting near the end of summer ready for his first college year, we decided enough was enough and went to get a second opinion. 

Doctors Have Continuing Medical Education

How much do you trust your doctorThe only difference between this new doctor and the original doctor was this doctor gave us the q-tips loaded with silver nitrate and told me to put it on my son's incision once a day every day for 5 days. The original doctor was doing it at appointments every couple of weeks for a while, then every month.

Within two days of us doing it at home, I saw his incision close inches at a time. Within a week, he was healed! All it took was a little extra care at home. When I took my son back to the original doctor, his response to seeing the totally healed incision and hearing what we did was, "Wow. I did not know that! You taught me something I can use in the future!"

It was kind of a good feeling, but my son and I both wished we had checked out a second medical opinion about a year earlier!

Oh! On second thought, the other difference in physicians was the office staff and the doctor's involvement in what was going on there. I just have to mention this as long as we're talking about getting things right.

When I called for the appointment at the second opinion doctor, I asked for prices and was told it was about the same as the original doctor, between $45 and $75 depending on what the doctor did.
Wasn't I surprised after seeing the doctor when the bill was $700 – for the doctor to look at an incision and swipe a q-tip loaded with silver nitrate along the incision! When I argued with the billing clerk, she said it was because of a surgery. When I told her all the doctor did was use that silver nitrate-loaded q-tip, she said the billing code said surgery. She checked with the doctor, and the bill came down to $400 – for a $75 visit. He said he didn't know the billing code he used was for surgery. Arguing did no good. I can only say my son got healed – and that is what was important.

Ideas on Where to Find Second Opinions

If you're not sure where to find a doctor for a second opinion, someone you know might know someone who has had a good doctor. I found a second opinion from asking someone I knew in my church for a recommendation. You can also check a source online such as http://www.healthgrades.com/. They list doctors near you, as well as get ratings from patients who have been to each doctor.
And this may surprise you (it definitely surprised me!) but you can always ask your doctor for a name of another doctor. He... or she should not be offended, unlike what my parents ran into, apparently. Most doctors understand that you are not trying to be a difficult patient, but you just want to make sure everything will be done for the best outcome.

Moral of the stories here: If you don't like what the doctor is telling you, get it from another doctor as well. Take control of your health – it's your life, and you deserve to know you are getting the right care.

Images courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young & stockimages at Freedigitalphotos.net


Department of Managed Healthcare at ca.gov. Care of Illness. Unknown Date of Publishing. https://www.dmhc.ca.gov/HealthCareinCalifornia/GettheBestCare/CareofIllness.aspx