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Be a Smart Patient at the Doctor’s Office

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June 3, 2019

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Taylor: Today we're talking about how to be a smart patient at the doctor's office. Hello, I'm Amy Taylor and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Carla Stanford, Mississippi State University Extension Service Regional Health Specialist. So Carla, there are many things that we need to definitely remember that are important when we choose our doctors, and we should choose our doctor carefully. So, what do we look for?

Carla Stanford: Well, I want everyone to remember that when you reach a certain age, for some people it's 40, for most people it's 50 plus, you're spending a great deal of your income on healthcare. So for them, and really for anyone else, it's very important to be a wise health consumer, and as you said, the first thing is choosing your doctor wisely.

Now, when you decide to use a doctor, of course you're going to go on experience and reputation. Even if you're in a small town or if you're not in a small town, word gets around about how good or how maybe not as good a doctor would be. So that's something to consider.

You also want to consider how close that doctor is to your home. Is this something you're going to be able to manage, getting to that doctor on time and having someone to take you if you're not able to go?

The last thing is hospital privileges. It's really important for our listeners to remember that doctors only have hospital privileges in certain places. So, if you don't wanna go to X Hospital, you make sure that your doctor does not admit only there. If that happens you can ask for a doctor who will refer and your doctor should help you with that.

Amy Taylor: And Carla, it's also imperative that we ask really good questions, right?

Carla Stanford: Exactly. When we go to the doctor we assume, and rightfully so, that the doctor is the expert on our health. Even though that's the right scenario and we would always hope that would be correct, we also need to learn to be proactive in how we approach a doctor's office visit. One of those things would be asking good questions. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

Amy Taylor: Like with medication and treatment especially, right?

Carla Stanford: Exactly. Let's talk about medication and the questions. First, even if it's something that you've already been taking and they changed the dosage, you need to ask why the dosage is being changed. What will this medication do for me? What is it gonna achieve? How soon should I see changes? If I see certain changes such as certain side effects, should I be concerned and should I contact you? And then, what are the alternatives to this medicine? Those are all good questions.

Amy Taylor: Okay, so second opinions can be life saving, especially with things like broken bones or serious illness like pneumonia or anything that involves severe pain like back pain. We should always get a second opinion with serious issues like that.

Carla Stanford: That's exactly right. Second opinions are imperative to specific diseases and conditions. If you have a doctor that you've trusted for many years that doesn't mean that doctor's gonna be prepared to fully treat you if it's a specific condition. So, you need to make sure that he or she can refer you to someone who only does that. A Kidney Specialist will know more about kidneys than the average General Practitioner. It's not that you don't respect that General Practitioner and that they're not very worthy of your trust, but you want to get someone that can hone and own that specific condition.

Amy Taylor: That's right, and especially when it comes to reading x-rays or reading certain charts that might need a specialist. If you have a broken bone or if you have something that needs to be looked at in your lung or something, for those times when you should get second opinions or extra care.

Carla Stanford: Oh absolutely. Anytime there's a third party involved, which would be reading of the x-rays, reading of any kind of test, you want someone who's really used to doing that all the time. When you talk to your doctor and perhaps you just want another opinion maybe just to see if anyone feels differently, that should not offend that doctor and you wanna be real careful about that. If it does offend that doctor, that should be a red flag to you because ego has no place in healthcare and the care a patient. It's all about the patient, what's best for them, and just to optimize their health.

Amy Taylor: Today we've been speaking with Carla Stanford, Regional Health Specialist. I'm Amy Taylor and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

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