Would you contradict your doctor?

Or would you just ignore the advice or recommendation of your physician?

A recent study published in the July 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine says most patients want a say in their medical care, but avoid disagreeing with or contradicting their doctor. The survey of 1,340 adults suggests that respondents fear that contradicting their doctor’s recommendations would be socially unacceptable and could hurt their relationship.

Rather than speak up, many choose to just ignore the advice of physicians.

At Gastrointestinal Associates, we want patients to have a say. It is important for you to be involved in your testing and treatment decisions. We value shared decision-making as a hallmark of patient-centered care.

Each patient and each diagnosis is unique. The best way for a physician to truly help a patient is for us to know everything we can. Many conditions have multiple treatment possibilities with a variety of benefits and side effects. To know what works for each individual patient, the lines of communication must be open.

When patients and physicians share in the decision-making process, outcomes improve. Though the physician is trained and highly knowledgeable about medical conditions, there are things about you that only you know. When you share this information with your doctor – even if it seems contradictory to the physician’s advice – then he or she is better able to treat your condition. It could be something as simple as having difficulty taking pills, or mobility issues. If you are not likely to follow a physician’s advice, tell them so. There may be several other treatment options to explore.

Respondents to the study said they were reluctant to disagree with a doctor because they feared being labeled a “bad patient.” It is never bad for a patient to question. Questions lead to discussion and discussion leads to solutions. We are all seeking the best medical solutions.

So next time you are unsure of your doctor’s recommendation, ask the questions. Feel free to challenge and disagree. The result just may be a solution that saves your life.