Question, Question and Clarify

Ever get one of “those” form letters in the mail from your doctor that it’s time for you to have a procedure? And when you get one of those letters, do you check with the doctor who sent it and ask what the purpose of this procedure might be? Is it necessary at this time? If not, maybe you should.

Recently, John received one of those letters. It had been three years since he had a procedure and Doctor A was requesting he return for a recheck. Doesn’t sound out of the question, does it? But John, being a smart healthcare consumer, called Doctor A’s office and asked why he needed to return for this procedure. Unfortunately, he received no answer. John then called his internist, Doctor B, who obviously had a little more clout than he does. Doctor B called John with the information he received from Doctor A’s office. Unfortunately, Doctor B’s answer didn’t seem to make much sense to John. He had no symptoms, no abnormal blood tests that would make him begin to wonder if something was wrong. Again, being a super smart healthcare consumer and a bit of a detective, John made an appointment to sit down with Doctor A, the one who originally sent the letter. Guess what? The information that was passed to Doctor B, John’s internist, was incorrect! Doctor A was concerned about a totally different potential problem. Aha! Now that John had the correct information he could begin to ask some intelligent questions of Doctor A about this new, possible diagnosis and the procedure itself. John could go home, do some research and think it over before he decided to go ahead. Since it was not an emergency procedure requiring immediate attention, John and Doctor A had some time to discuss his options.

Here’s the take-home message: ASK QUESTIONS. Again, ask questions till you feel comfortable with what you’re hearing. You don’t often have to sign the consent form or fill the prescription immediately. Yes, of course, there are times when quick decisions are in the best interest of your health. Much of the time though, it’s wise to find out what you can, discuss with your healthcare professional and then together, make a well informed, thoughtful decision. You’ll be far more likely to avoid miscommunication and an unnecessary procedure.

In the end, it’s well worth your time and the cost of an additional office visit (if your insurance doesn’t cover it) to clarify any confusing or incorrect information. It’s your health. What could be important.

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