You could be facing surgery, be prescribed a pharmaceutical drug or be asked to consent to x-rays. But do stop and consider before going ahead with any of these. Do your own research, be informed and you will be better placed to make the best decision for you.
At the end of the day, the person most concerned about your own health is you. It is your responsibility and no one else's - unless you are incapacitated and then you should already have made clear your wishes to your nearest and dearest to act on your behalf.
Every year, some 15 million plus Americans undergo surgery
. Most surgical operations are not emergencies and are considered elective surgery so you should have plenty of time to consider carefully before making a decision. Your doctor or surgeon should welcome your questions and your interest. Be very concerned if he or she tries to fob you off in any way. It may also be advisable to have a second opinion. If you are not good at standing your ground or absorbing information, make sure to take along a good friend or relative who will do this for you! Patients who are well informed about their surgery and treatment and what they can expect before, during and afterwards are more satisfied with their results.
Here are the questions you need to ask:
1. what are the alternatives to the surgery?
2. How will my life be different after the procedure?
3. What are the risks of both the surgery and the anesthesia?
4. What type of anesthesia will I be given?
5. Are the risks greater for me than other patients?
6. What will happen if I say no?
7. Is this procedure a cure or if not, how long will the benefits of the procedure last?
8. What type of incision will be used? Open procedure or a minimally invasive, oriaparoscopic procedure?
9. How often do you perform this procedure and are you board certified in this surgical specialty?
10. Would you have the procedure done to yourself and if so, who would you get to do it?
Then there are x-rays.
Be careful not to consent to x-rays whether for general medical or surgical problems or for dental diagnosis when they seem unnecessary or excessive. It is important to minimize your medical radiation risk because there are no safe doses of x-rays. Even more important is to avoid x-rays for your child and particularly the new radiation-intense CT x-rays and the dental cone-beam CT scanner.
Just as with proposed surgery, ask questions first.
1. Is the x-ray really necessary?
2. What difference will it make in my care?
3. Is the facility accredited by the American College of Radiology?
4. Will the test use the lowest level of radiation for adequate imaging and be adjusted for my size?
5. Is there a non-radiation alternative such as ultrasound or MRI?
6. Will the scan be limited to the indicated area and will nearby areas be shielded too?
Finally we get on to pharmaceutical drugs
. If your doctor wants to prescribe a drug, take the trouble to do your own careful search to check for side effects or natural alternatives?
1. Is the drug really necessary?
2. Is it prescribed appropriately or is it being prescribed for an off-label use?
3. What are ALL the side effects?
4. Is the drug addictive?
5. What are the natural alternatives?
Be proactive, take responsibility for your health and question everything. You may find that what is proposed is not necessary after all.