Help yourself

Have you ever heard of the Index Medicus?

You probably haven’t, but it’s very important. The Index Medicus is a very large  series of books that contain an index of medical journal articles. If you have a problem that your doctor needs to research, the Index Medicus is the first place for him to look.

They stopped publishing the Index in 2004. It was just getting too big – all the volumes combined weighed an amazing 152 pounds! PubMed, an electronic database, could do the same job that the printed version did, without all the bulk.  So now instead of heading for the medical library to look up some information, your doctor sits down at his computer.

With all this information available, there is no way that your doctor can even hope to keep track of it all. And remember, you aren’t his only patient – he’s got dozens more, just like you. Unless he is specifically researching your medical condition at the moment, he’s probably not going to stumble across a journal entry and think “Hey! I really need to discuss this with Steve!”

This is part of the reason that you need to take control of your own healthcare needs. The only person you can rely on 100% of the time to watch out for you is… YOU.

So get involved. Learn your defect, top to bottom. Know what medications you are taking and what they are supposed to do. Read the medical journals (you can use PubMed, too) and keep up on the newest research. Read, read, read, and learn. Only use reputable sources – if you see something on the evening news, check it out. Those reports almost always present bad information, but learning how to detect bad information will keep you away from quacks who HAVE THE CURE!

But don’t walk into your doctor’s office waving a fistful of printouts. That’s an insult: He’s spent years in medical school, you’ve spent half an hour on the Internet. I bet that he knows more than you do! A better way to present your findings to him is to say “Doctor, I have been reading about ______, what’s your opinion?”

Most doctors appreciate active, engaged patients. Some don’t – they would prefer you sit quietly, do as your told, and if you are good, he’ll give you a lollipop when you leave. If you have a doctor like that, it’s time to find another doctor.

And those lollipops are bad for your teeth, anyway!


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One Response to “Help yourself”

  1. Astrid Says:

    I like this. It’s true. You shouldn’t be waving all the latest research articles into your doctor’s face, but it is good to discuss what you found out, cause maybe it would work. Because my main issue is psychiatric/developmental, doctors have been less willing ot accept my input, but I occasionally come across health providers who will appreciate it.

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