Working With Doctors

Text Size:

Sometimes doctors can be your best diabetes friends. Others seem to be part of the problem. How do you find a good doctor and work well with him? What does a person new to diabetes need to know about working with doctors?

It seems some doctors are better about sharing information, while others just like to give orders. Some are better at listening. Some seem more rushed. How do we help them help us?

One thing I know is this: It’s important to prepare well for an appointment. On a blog entry I wrote back in 2008, reader delebra commented,

The day before I go to the doctor, I fill out a form I have devised on my computer. First is a list of the medications I take, with dosages and what they are for. On the back of that I print a list of my allergies and intolerances to medications, foods, and chemical/environmental sensitivities.

The next page is my medical history, broken down by diseases/conditions, injuries, [and] surgeries/procedures. Within each category things are listed with the date, with the latest first.

The last page is current problems, where I describe what’s going on that the doctor needs to know about. This is where I ask my questions.

Good work, delebra! Though I would also include log forms of glucose levels and anything else you keep track of.

Notice delebra doesn’t assume the doctor knows anything at all about her. Doctors have thousands of patients. They can’t remember details about any of us, including our medicines. And they’re not mind readers — if we have a problem we must tell them; if we have a question we must ask. Otherwise we leave the appointment thinking, “Damn. We didn’t talk about the most important thing.”

I always make a written list of the most important points I want to talk about with the doctor. It’s good to have your two or three most important questions written out. That way you won’t forget to ask. If the doctor is unable to answer, or doesn’t have time, you can leave the list with him for a reply by phone or e-mail later.

Our Web site has a lot of other tips for successful appointments here and here.

But what about finding a good doctor in the first place? What’s the most important thing to look for?

Some other questions: Some doctors seems like they listen more to drug company marketers than they listen to patients. Do doctors ever seem like pill (or injection) pushers to you, and how do you deal with that?

I especially wonder about dietary advice. Is that an important part of what a doctor should do for you, or do you get that in other places?

How important is it that your doctor be open-minded? If you want to try a new diet approach or herbs or vinegar or something else you’ve learned about, how important is your doctor’s approval?

How often should you plan to see your doctor? Web Editor Diane Fennell reported on a study showing that people with more frequent appointments gain better control of their diabetes. The study authors thought the benefit of frequent visits was that changes could be made more rapidly. Does that make sense to you?

Finally, do we need to see doctors at all? Several people have commented, as Ferne did on Diane’s blog entry above, that they prefer their nurse practitioner to their doctor. (Actually, I do too. I haven’t seen my general practitioner in three years.) Is that an option for people with diabetes, especially newly diagnosed people? Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

Get Diabetes-Friendly Recipes In Your Inbox

Sign up for Free

Stay Up To Date On News & Advice For Diabetes

Sign up for Free

Get On Track With Daily Lifestyle Tips

Sign up for Free

Save Your Favorites

Save This Article