We all want to be able to go to a medical clinic and immediately know how our health issues can be confronted. However, there is a reason why there is so much schooling to get a medical degree: assessing symptoms and diagnosing health conditions is complex.
Doctors determine symptoms in a number of different ways: two of the most important ones are observation (such as looking at your skin or in your ears) and tests (such as blood samples, imaging, etc.). However, there is a third critical way that physicians assess our health that is often overlooked by the patient: communication.
Unlike observing and testing, which essentially involve the physician performing a task, communication is interactive – as when you describe your symptoms at a pain management clinic and ask questions, gathering information to aid in your recovery.
“Your provider’s ability to determine what is wrong and how to treat it depends almost entirely on communication,” explained Mary Jo Kreitzer, PhD, director of the Center for Spirituality & Healing at the University of Minnesota. “From scheduling an appointment to wrapping up your visit, effective communication will help ensure that you get what you need.”
Print & expand: 9 sample medical clinic questions
The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) offered the following nine questions as good ones to modify and expand in preparation for your next medical clinic visit:
1. Why is this test necessary? What will it tell us?
2. What is your specific experience related to these treatment strategies?
3. When will I know the findings or outcome?
4. Why are these particular therapies well-suited to my situation?
5. Are there other potential treatments I should consider?
6. What are the risks – side effects or complications?
7. Do you advocate specific hospitals or other providers?
8. What is the exact spelling of the medication that you recommend?
9. Is there any danger that the new prescription will interact with a current one?
Communication: It’s about trust
You may think that the best way to convey trust to a doctor is to sit quietly and listen. That’s not always the case. Consider that you could strengthen a trusting relationship with any provider by becoming more fully engaged in your own recovery.
Obviously no one wants to trust the wrong provider, though. When you start asking questions, you will quickly know whether you should trust your provider based on their ability to listen.
At Pain Stop Clinics, we practice responsible pain management. We believe strongly in communication, forming long-lasting relationships with our patients.