Sunday, January 21, 2018

Helping your doctor help you


Mark Fraser

Communication is a major part of a good relationship with your doctor. If you and your doctor don’t communicate well this increases the probability for medical errors, erodes trust, and can ultimately compromise your medical care. There are ways of helping him help you get the most from your visit.

Before you appointment with your doctor, it is a good idea to be prepared. Suggestions are you write down a list of your concerns as well as information about your symptoms, medications you are presently taking and you should bring records of any past or recent test results. Think about:

• What your symptoms are and when your symptoms began?

• If there is anything you do that makes your symptoms better?

• If there is anything you do that makes your symptoms worse?

• If you are experiencing pain, what does it feel like? (Throbbing pain like a headache, stabbing pain like a knife).

• How bad is your pain? On a scale of 0-10, with “0” being no pain and “10” being the worst pain you can imagine, what number would you give your present pain?

• Is your pain in one spot or are you also feeling pain elsewhere?

If your symptoms are related to passing urine, think of the following:

• Answer the IPSS symptom questionnaire (previous article). If you don’t have a copy yet, send a blank e-mail to

• Is there burning when you pass your urine?

• Is there a foul smell to your urine?

• What colour is your urine?

• Have you had a fever or chills (the shakes) with your symptoms?

Being prepared also shows your doctor that you are respectful of his/her time. Many doctors appreciate it when you tell them from the start how much and what kind of information you want. This helps them zone in on what is important to you. Be honest, even if some things are a little embarrassing, chances are your doctor has talked to other men in a similar situation. Doctors are generally trained to help you with issues you are not comfortable speaking about with anyone else. If your life has become worse since starting a new medication, you should be honest and tell your doctor so, he might be able to give you a smaller amount of the medication you are presently taking or give you another medication that may work better for you. Remember, you are in a health partnership with your doctor. Some questions you might want to ask:

• What treatments are normally used for your condition? Which one does he think is best for you, and why?

• Are there any alternative treatments that might be okay for you to try, either before, along with or after conventional treatment?

* Unfortunately, some doctor-patient partnerships do not work out. The most common complaint, when these conflicts arise, is that people feel like they’re not being heard or understood, says George Blackall, PsyD, author of Breaking the Cycle: How to Turn Conflict Into Collaboration When You and Your Patients Disagree and professor of paediatrics and humanities at Penn State University College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa.

Keep in mind that this is a partnership, Blackall says, where both parties bring expertise to the table. The physician brings medical expertise and the patients bring the expertise of knowing their body and preferences for treatment and care”.

Next week- Is it Benign or Malignant? The hunt for Prostate Cancer.


Dennis Webster is an oncology-trained nurse and

cancer consultant with over 20 years experience. He has a keen interest in men’s health with a focus on prostate disease, prostate cancer and prostate

cancer risk assessment.


Skype: Brachy4u

Blog address

This Information is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace consultation with health-care professionals. Consult a qualified health-care professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your individual medical situation.