No matter whether you’re suffering an illness or planning a routine health checkup, it’s essential to ensure that you’re getting the best possible medical care. Patients can find navigating the healthcare system challenging, forcing them to accept substandard care. Knowing how to advocate for yourself ensures that you never have to worry that your doctor is ignoring you or looking past your health concerns.
There are several steps you can take to ensure that you’re well taken care of every time you visit a healthcare professional.
One of the biggest challenges that patients face when visiting a doctor’s office is speaking up for themselves. Instead, they wait for the doctor’s diagnosis and take the prescription offered (if any) before leaving.
This can lead to doctors looking over less common conditions you may be suffering from or misdiagnosing you. Such situations are particularly common if you’re a woman with a reproductive issue like endometriosis, which numerous doctors dismiss and ignore. Indeed, the issue is so widespread that it can take 7-10 years on average for a woman to be diagnosed with endometriosis.
To reduce this risk, make sure you’re fully prepared when you visit your doctor. Come in armed with information about your symptoms and any chronic issues you may have. Speak up and ask your medical provider any questions that you may have – and make sure to get answers instead of letting them convince you to move on.
Know Your Health Insurance
It’s extremely common for people to worry that being uninsured or having poor insurance will result in doctors not giving them proper care. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth – a good doctor will treat everyone, regardless of insurance status.
However, knowing your health insurance properly can help you avoid unnecessary costs after visiting a doctor. One good example of this is the cost of prescription medications. If you’re covered under Medicare, it’s essential to check which Medicare plans you qualify for, including whether or not you qualify for Medicare part D. If you do, start looking for the best rated Medicare Part D plans as soon as possible. These plans cover the cost of drugs prescribed by your doctor.
Having these costs covered means that you won’t be worried about prescriptions at the doctor’s office. This will allow your medical practitioner to ensure you’re on the best medications possible, regardless of costs. People who are not covered often request to be prescribed less expensive medicines, and you won’t have to worry about such a situation arising.
Make Sure You Get Your Medical Records
While most of us know where our most important documents are kept, one such piece of documentation that is often overlooked is your medical records. Having access to your medical records is essential to ensure you have the best possible medical care.
If you have access to your records, there’s no delay in situations where you need to change medical providers. Additionally, you avoid potentially awkward conversations where you have to explain to your doctor why you’ve decided to make the change.
When you get your records, make sure to read through them to better understand your health. Remember, your doctor is legally bound to provide you with records for yourself, minors for whom you are a guardian or people for whom you are a documented caregiver. Additionally, if you have written permission, you can ask for records of other people. If your doctor seems reluctant to provide you with these details, push until they do – it is your legal right to have them.
If you have sat for tests or need an additional appointment, your doctor’s office may tell you they’ll contact you themselves. Make sure to ask when you can expect a response and follow up as much as possible.
If you’re worried about tests, especially major ones such as pap smears, reach out to them and ask for details until you get them. If your follow-up appointment is delayed, check back until you’re given one. Even the most diligent physicians can forget about checking in patients occasionally, and you don’t want to be the person who gets lost in the shuffle.
If you’re not a medical professional, advocating for yourself at a doctor’s office or hospital can often seem challenging. That said, it’s essential to learn how – the more you speak up for yourself, the less likely it is that your medical practitioner will be able to ignore your needs.
Doctors are humans, and if they’re swamped, they may feel like they need to finish your appointment as soon as possible. By speaking up for yourself, you ensure that you get the best possible care and that your health is looked after.