Unlike shopping for a car, you unfortunately can’t take a doctor for a “test drive”. You can accept advice from your friends and family regarding a physician they have seen or you can take a look online. There are many websites available that patients can visit in order to read previous patient’s experiences, some of which have good information. At the very least you can find out where a doctor went to school, where their residency training took place, and how long they have been practicing.
After visiting a doctor of your choosing, try to learn as much as possible about what the doctor told you. You may have learned a new diagnosis, blood values that the doctor would like you to improve, or perhaps a family history of a disease that you’d like to do your best to prevent. While the doctor may be your best source for accurate information, there is much you can learn outside of the doctor’s office. The internet can be dangerous, as anyone can post their feelings about a disease, so be sure to visit reputable websites with plenty of sources for their information. The library is also a good source for learning about medical issues, as you can review online journals and articles published by leaders in various fields of medicine. One of the most important things you can learn regarding any sickness is which symptoms can be treated at home and which symptoms may warrant a doctor’s visit or perhaps a 911 call.
If you are prescribed a medication, be sure to learn all that you can about it. A good reference tool for this would be Mosby’s Drug Reference. It may run you $20-$50 depending on how recent of an edition you purchase, but it comes complete with the drug classification as well as side effects listed along with the percentage of people that experienced those side effects during clinical trials.
While this is not a complete list of things you can do to become a wise patient, it is at the very least a start. If you’d like more information regarding healthy living, feel free to visit healthyliving.com. The American Institute for Preventative Medicine is a great source for things you can do to improve your health.
Justin Glaze is an LPN and contributing columnist for the Walker County Messenger. He can be reached at 678-988-1011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.