Why you should question your Doctor? (Editorial)


The classic view of a doctor is dead. The days of dressing up to be ill, queuing for your GP and taking their advice as wrote are numbered. As information technology grows our reliance on online media, self-diagnosis and guiding are own care grows with it. Medicine is changing, and that’s a good thing. It’s time to work with your doctor, not under them. So what is ‘shared decision making’ and how can it work for you?

Paternalistic care, a dead end

Paternalistic care is the model of the doctor telling you what to do. Although doctors have years of training and experience, patients often find themselves at odd with their practitioner. The old model of doing ‘exactly what the doctor says’ is one celebrated by an older generation. Patients today wish to be more involved, more informed and more quizzical. In my experience, the younger generation is more demanding, expects more and asks more. This is no bad thing.

Is it good to question your doctor?

Simply put, Yes. Doctors make mistakes, and sometimes the right question can improve care. More importantly, your experience of your illness is more leading that any test. Those with chronic conditions, such as IBS, Depression or Dementia, may find that a different approach suits them better. Sometimes asking the doctor ‘Why?’ can improve your health journey. A different treatment, a new direction, can improve your relationship with your doctor and illness.

It also helps us. Doctors are used to being celebrated, and in the game of medicine, an ego is a bad thing. Mistakes are made through complacency, expertise through experience and learning through listening. Often asking your doctor to explain a disease, why a certain treatment is chosen, and what else there may be, will test us and cause us to improve. To be at the top of our game we need to play as a team. The best lessons I have ever learned are through working with patients, not from textbooks (although, admittedly, they help.)

Shared Decision Making; The new model

The best decisions are made together. You are not expected to understand the fundamentals of neuroscience or the cellular markers of pancreatic cancer, but you are an expert. You are an expert of yourself, your desires, your level of tolerance, your expectations. Working with your doctor, sharing decision making toward a shared goal, means that you can trust your doctor is working for you.  This is the future of medicine, so start today.

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Any opinions above are the author’s alone and may not represent those of his/her affiliations. Any comment is based on the best available evidence at the time of writing.  All data is based on externally validated studies unless expressed otherwise. Novel data is representative of the sample surveyed. Online recommendation is no substitute for seeing your own doctor and should not be taken as medical advice

Image courtesy of Pixabay

About drbmjanaway (16 Articles)
Doctor and author with an interest in neurology, evolutionary biology and public health communication

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