Tuesday, February 7, 2012


For this blog post, I have selected to address an issue that many of us seniors here in Malaysia and Singapore are familiar with - a reluctance to ask our doctors for more information even when we want to know more.

Perhaps it's to do with our Asian culture of keeping quiet especially when in the presence of someone of authority like doctors. We put doctors on a high pedestal. We kow-tow to them. So who are we to ask for more information or question them? They are busy people with little time to listen to us. Besides, we don't want to show our ignorance with our questions or that we have some fears and doubts to raise about our medical condition. 

Most times we don't quite understand their explanations or instructions, or we forget much of the details as soon as we leave the consultation room. 

And so we let pass the opportunity to ask questions while in the doctor's room, only to go home and berate ourselves for not asking what all these prescription drugs are for, if it's okay to take them together with traditional medicines, or what the side effects are, if any. We call up the clinic. We would be lucky if our call gets through. And if it does, chances are the nurse will inform us the doctor is with a patient and can't take our call.

So the next time you see your doctor, bring up any questions that are troubling you. Write them down so you won't forget. Better communication between you and your doctor leads to better care for you. 

Here are the 10 questions you might want to ask your doctor. The list is by no means exhaustive. 

1. What is the cause of my illness?
2. What is the test for?
3. When will I get the results?
4. Why do I need this treatment?\
5. What can happen if I don't take this treatment?
6. Are there any alternatives?
7. What are the possible complications?
8. Are there any side effects of the medication?
9. Will this medicine interact with medicines that I'm already taking?
10. Are cheaper options available?

Do watch this 7-minute video above that features patients and clinicians discussing the importance of asking questions and sharing information.  

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