Your Health Needs a Good Offensive Line

When it comes to your health, you have to be a fighter, not a lover.  I represent victims of medical negligence, and I hear far too often from my clients statements like:  “I wish I had known to ask that question,” or “I didn’t think I could question what the doctor was saying,” or “What do I know about medicine?”  The days of Marcus Welby, MD are over folks.  No longer should the doctor in the white coat go unchallenged.  Everyone must have an advocate when they are undergoing treatment in a hospital, clinic, surgery center or doctor’s office.  Since the person who is sick cannot always question and challenge and make sure the right care is being given, designate someone else to be your advocate. Whenever possible, bring a husband, wife, mother, father, friend with you to listen, to ask questions, to write down what the doctor is saying.  Find someone to be your offensive line.  In football, the quarterback has an offensive line that protects him from being hurt.  As a patient in the current healthcare system, you also need an offensive line.  Someone to look out for you and protect you when you are vulnerable.  That person does not need to know medicine. He or she just needs to listen and to ask even basic questions like “how do you know,” “why did you make that diagnosis,” “what can you do to find out what is wrong?”  In the hospital setting, if you do not have anyone that can come with you, ask the hospital for a patient advocate to see you.  Most hospitals now have patient advocate departments who will send someone to ensure you are getting proper care.  Do not be afraid to ask doctors questions.  They are human just like the rest of us and they make mistakes.  Ask the doctor to tell you his diagnosis and what tests can be done to make sure it is the right diagnosis.  Ask the doctor to explain all the treatment options available to you, and then ask her why she is recommending a certain treatment.  Find out what needs to be done to follow up after you leave the doctor.  Your health is vital and you must take an active role in protecting it.  Be an advocate or find an advocate.