Dr Phil: Ask me, I'm a doctor
The secret of learning is to ask the right questions. So said a wise old lecturer of mine. He could have added that the secret of teaching was to encourage the right questions. How many of us have sat at the back of a classroom and wanted to ask something but have been put off by the fear of embarrassment and ridicule? I've spent 16 years encouraging patients to overcome their shyness and to keep asking questions about their illness and treatment. Medicine (and life) is uncertain, and sometimes the answer is I don't know. But the surest sign that the NHS is opening up to patients is when you can ask any question you like, without feeling stupid or a nuisance.
- What do you think is wrong with me?
- What tests will I need?
- What do the tests involve?
- When will I know the results?
- What treatments are there to choose from?
- What are the risks and benefits of the different options?
- Will the treatment effect my work, sex or social life?
- How long will the treatment last?
- How do I know if I'm getting the best treatment?
- Will I be able to look after my family or will I need help?
- Will the treatment affect my fertility?
- Can anything be done about the smell?
- Will I be able to drive?
- How can I tell my family and friends?
- Would you like a chocolate?
- Are you a specialist?
- How many of this particular type of operation have you done?
- If a junior surgeon is doing my operation, will he or she be closely supervised by a specialist?
- What have your results been in the long term?
- How do they compare to the national average?
- How likely is it that this treatment will improve the length or quality of my life?
- How likely is it that this treatment will harm me?
- Is there another unit in the NHS that gets much better results than yours?
- How big will the scar be?
- Would you like a chocolate? Not the purple one, that's my favourite.
- Is that bag of blood really for me? Do you mind if we check?
- How fast should the bag run through? It was 8 hourly yesterday.
- What are these large pink tablets? I normally have small white ones.
- Would you like a grape? Would you mind washing your hands first?
Written by: Dr Phil Hammond
Edited by: Dr Phil Hammond
Last updated: Friday, December 17th 2010
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