A patient learns about a treatment for his condition. So he goes to his physician to suggest the treatment as an option. Is there anything wrong with that?
It depends on how his “suggestion” is presented.
In today’s age of patient advocacy and direct-to-patient marketing of pharmaceuticals, a new phenomenon is flourishing in doctors’ offices: patients asking for specific diagnostic tests or therapies.
I think it’s terrific if you bring information and ideas to your physicians. In fact, it can be a red flag if your physicians refuse to listen to any of your ideas about your evaluation or treatment. But you only hurt yourself if you expect your physician to follow your orders [no matter how well-trained you are in the condition(s) being treated].
Problems can arise if you just appear to be trying to drive your own care. This is especially true in new physician-patient relationships, where you and your physician are just getting to know each other.
If you find a test or treatment that interests you, instead of saying to your physicians, “I’d like to suggest this treatment,” try something along the lines of “This is what I’ve learned about the treatment and why I think it might be useful. What do you think about it in my case?”
You and your physician are a team with a shared mission: getting you better, if possible. You benefit most when you can depend on and trust your physician’s judgment and expertise in your care.
Wendy S. Harpham is an internal medicine physician who blogs at Dr. Wendy Harpham on Health Survivorship.
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