If you go blank when your doctor asks, "Do you have any questions?" then you're not alone. Many patients feel overwhelmed, intimidated or simply at a loss for words. So two nurses have teamed up to write a book of questions about "What to Ask the Doc." Margaret Fitzpatrick is a trauma nurse specialist at Chicago's Advocate Christ Medical Center and Linda Burke is a nurse in the surgical intensive care unit of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. They discuss the book on “Today” and share some highlights here:
If you're going to the doctor, take a nurse with you.
Modern healthcare can be confusing (especially during a trauma or emergency), so patients need information to make careful decisions, to understand the treatment process and to empower themselves.
In order to better understand the importance of knowing what to ask the doctor (and how questions can change your treatment), we've created a scenario. It's every parent's worst nightmare: Your child is hurt. As a parent, what do you do and what do you ask?
Why it's so hard to ask the right questions:
*Family members feel intimidated, overwhelmed or put on the spot.*Family members and/or patients just don't know what to ask. Medicine is obviously it's own specialty. Like building a house, patients need to understand how the tools work before they can ask about how to build the house.*Doctors often have little time (or energy) to explain.
Why nurses wrote this book (instead of doctors):
*Nurses have traditionally been thought of as the "go to person." They spend the most time with patients.*Nurses are trained as patient advocates and can help advise. Doctors serve a different function — they diagnose and treat. Nurses implement those plans and can help advise.
What to ask the doc: when your child is injured or sick:
(In this example, the child could have a broken bone, a severe laceration or just be very sick. In any of these situations, an ER visit is required.)
*What tests does the child need? (MRI, Cat Scan etc.)*Can I be there for the test (parents are often allowed to be in the room, but are often too shy to ask).*Will the child need sedation?*How is the child monitored during sedation?
*Is this the most conservative method of treatment?*What experience does the doctor (and hospital) have in performing this surgery?*Could this surgery be postponed? (And what risks does the child face if the surgery is not performed immediately?)*Could we transfer to another hospital (one that specializes in this surgery)?
*What type of anesthesia will be used?*Are there choices for different types of anesthesia?*How will you keep the child pain free?*How will you know when the child is in pain? Discuss pain management beforesurgery.
Margaret Fitzpatrick is a trauma nurse specialist at Chicago's Advocate Christ Medical Center and Linda Burke is a nurse in the surgical intensive care unit of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. You can learn more on this topic from their book, "What to Ask the Doc: The Questions to Ask to Get the Answers You Need."