Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Don't Be Afraid to Challenge Your Doctor

The Center for Disease Control hasn't released statistics on the effectiveness of this season's flu vaccine, but it acknowledges that getting it is no guarantee you'll avoid getting sick.  As a matter of fact, last season's vaccine effectiveness was 39 percent.  (Source:  Allure)   That's probably why I've never been a fan of the flu shot and the last time I had one was more than 30 years ago.

For nearly a month I have been battling some flu like symptoms.  Because I don't appear to be getting better with my own homemade recipes of tea with lemon and honey, plenty of fluids, and Robitussin, I decided it was time to see my doctor.  Unfortunately my Primary Care Physician was unable to see me because he was booked solid, so I had to see a Nurse Practitioner.  I had never seen her before so I was reluctant but I figured she was better than going to the Urgent Care (next door) which was overflowing with sick folks.

I'm not exactly sure how much of my medical history this NP read before she saw me but she immediately apologized for being more than an hour late in seeing me for my scheduled 9:20 am appointment.  She indicated she was seeing patients back-to-back and two people had to be taken from the clinic to the ER. 

Right at the beginning I wanted her to understand my concern because of my congestive heart failure diagnosis more than 10 years ago.  I'm already dealing with an enlarged heart so additional fluids around that area can have a negative impact on my overall health.  As result, she ordered a bunch of tests. Moments ago, I received the results, which could've been in a foreign language because I didn't understand what they were for and the necessity.  Furthermore, there was nothing in the results that indicated what was wrong although the flu was definitely ruled OUT.  But here's the kicker:  She prescribed some medication for a "possibility" of what I might have.  Who takes medication without knowing why?  I certainly don't!

Why am I sharing this?  Because there are people just like me all over the country who see doctors and don't get definitive results or they're misdiagnosed. This is especially true in the black community, where the quality of healthcare often depends on your skin color. (Source:  HuffPost)

Once I read the results in my email, I immediately sent a note to the NP.  I also sent a :cc to my PCP.   

Ms. NP,

I have looked at the test results from my office visit today.  Since the results are unclear to me, can you tell me what the medication is actually for?  I don't see anything in my test results to indicate what my diagnosis is.  All I know is I continue to feel bad with a tightness in my chest and coughing and congestion.

I will not take the medication until I am clear on the reason why.  The reason for this is several years ago I was given antibiotics for what a doctor thought was pneumonia.  It turned out to be cardiomyopathy.  Terrible misdiagnosis!

Thank you

Don't be afraid to challenge your medical provider.  While you're in the office, take the time to ask questions:

1)  What is the test four?

2)  When will I get the results?

3)  Why do I need this treatment/medication?

4)  Will this medicine interact with medicines I'm already taking?

5)  Are there any alternatives

I'll be sure to follow up to this blog post with the response I receive.