For most of us, making choices about medical care is scary and complicated. To ease our fears and help us make good health care decisions, Dr. Peter Ubel offers advice in his new book, Critical Decisions: How You and Your Doctor can Make the Right Medical Choices Together (http://peterubel.com/books/critical-decisions/). Dr. Ubel offers valuable tips to empower us:
- The right medical choices often depend on your values – on what you care about. Your values matter. Tell your doctor those values. Are you deathly afraid of surgery? Would you prefer to manage your condition with daily medications? Does more time with your family matter most? Your doctor should know what really matters to you. Only then can the two of you weigh those values against the medical facts. Important medical decisions should not be left to the medical facts alone.
- Inform yourself about alternatives. The University of Ottawa (http://decisionaid.ohri.ca/) and Informed Medical Decisions Foundation (www.informedmedicaldecisions.org) offer online decision tools for many medical conditions. Check these sites out. Also ask if your doctor has similar resources available to make medical decisions. Many medical providers now offer “decision-coaching services” with nurses and medical students who can accompany you.
- Come to your appointment with a list of questions. Listen actively. Tell your doctor when you’re confused. Ask your doctor to slow down. Say, “Please explain that to me again, doctor” as much as you can. Bring someone with you to help say these things.
- If you have time to decide, then take time to decide. Bad decisions are often made quickly. Slow down, sleep on it, and let your emotions subside. Allow your subconscious to work on it. Get a second opinion. Research online. Ask other patients who have already faced the same decision. Ask those who face the same decision now.
- Stay informed by visiting Dr. Ubel’s website: www.peterubel.com. Dr. Ubel updates his site with his latest findings on medical decision-making. Read his book too, if you want to know more about this vital, fascinating topic.
We at KLH hope these tools help you make the right medical decisions.