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7 Things Your General Physician Won't Tell You

Posted Aug 05 2012 12:06pm


Is there anyone that truly enjoys going to see the doctor?

If you raised your hand and said yes to that question, you are most likely in the minority. For most people, a trip to the doctor's office evokes more fear than anything. Whether the fear is justified or not, many folks just want to stay away from that particular office.

While there are numerous reasons for individuals to not want to see a doctor, could one factor be that they're not getting the entire truth when seeing their general physician?

For many patients, a visit with a physician boils down to a few minutes here and few minutes there. Given that many people only see a doctor once a year for a general physical, there is not a great deal of time allotted for such a visit.

As a result, physicians do not always either have the time or make the time to share everything with their patients. In some cases, they may not even want to share every little detail. Yes, you heard that correctly.

So, what are some things that a general physician might not tell a patient?

They can include:

1. I run late more often than not – Yes, most patients can attest to the fact that their doctors are always running late, but don't expect the doctor to regularly share that information. In most cases, patients can be left waiting anywhere from a few minutes to a half-hour or more for their doctor to see them. If you have a scheduled appointment for 9 a.m., be pleasantly surprised if your doctor comes in the room at precisely that time. It is important to remember that your office visit is of utmost importance to you, so make sure it has your doctor's attention too;

2. I don't get paid as much as you think I do – Most patients know that doctors make a pretty good salary, but it turns out that in many instances, primary physicians are on the lower rung of the ladder when it comes to pay. It is not uncommon for specialists in areas like gynecology, oncology, and neurology to be making significantly more money. At the end of the day, it should not matter what your primary care physician is making; he or she is there to serve you.

3. My assistant is not as qualified as I am – Have you been to see your doctor and you end up with a physician's assistant? If you think it doesn't happen, it does. While many such assistants are well educated and have a desire to serve patients, they simply do not have the onsite experience that the primary care doctor has. Your doctor of course will never tell you this, but do not be afraid to specify that you want to see your doctor.

4. You don't need all these tests – In all honesty, there are those good doctors out there that will bypass what they believe to be unnecessary tests when a patient comes to them complaining of this or that. Others, however, will send the patient for a battery of tests, meaning the patient can expect to get a nice little bill from their insurance company. Many doctors will also suggest a patient get a test or two, shielding the doctor from any potential liability should it be determined down the road the patient had more than just a simple cough or a little back pain. Always get a second and even third opinion if needed when your doctor suggests a series of tests for whatever is bothering you.

5. Taking multiple medications at one time can be harmful – If you have ever heard your primary care doctor tell you he or she is not worried about how you may react to several different medications at one time, question them immediately. Even taking two drugs at one time can have negative results on your body. Make sure that your doctor goes over any potential side effects with you in detail. Also be sure to follow their instructions, meaning you are not going off and on your medication.

6. Your insurer controls everything – Given the state of the U.S. healthcare system when it comes to insurance, many consumers are afraid to open their medical bills when they come calling. The fact is that your health insurer does have a large say in which doctors you can see, which tests you can have ordered, and what types of follow-up care you can receive at a decent price. Talk with your doctor about the best care you can get at an affordable price.

7. There is a generic brand that is much cheaper than this prescription – While some doctors will level with you when prescribing a medication, others will steer you in the direction of the higher-priced pill. In most cases, there is a generic version of your prescription that can be purchased for a much better price. If you are worried about the quality and effectiveness of the generic pill, keep in mind that generics are required to have the same potency and active ingredients as their brand-name counterparts. The reality is that some doctors have what some would describe as too cozy a relationship with pharmaceutical companies. Always question your doctor when he or she prescribes a medication for you if there is a similar pill you can buy over-the-counter.

When you next go to your primary physician, be prepared to go with a list of questions about your health. By doing this, you can leave the appointment satisfied that you got your money's worth, especially in this day and age of high medical costs.

About the author: With 23 years of experience as a writer, Dave Thomas covers a wide array of topics from the right gutters for your home to buying affordable health insurance.

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