Dr. Jeff Kane: The effective patient quiz
Are you an informed and expressive patient or, conversely, do you leave everything up to the doc? Or are you somewhere in between? Take this quiz to see where you fall on the spectrum.
1. You intend to ask your doctor several important questions, but you get so nervous during appointments that you forget them. So you
a. Ask a friend to accompany you with a list.
b. Dispense with the questions. If you can’t remember them, they can’t be that important.
c. Ask the doctor for a tranquilizer to take before your next visit.
d. Complain to friends that the doc doesn’t have time for questions.
2. You’re angry because you arrived punctually for an appointment but had to wait for an hour. You say to the doc,
a. “How come I had to wait so long? Were you on the phone with your Swiss banker?”
b. “Oh, I don’t mind waiting. I’m sure you were doing something very important.”
c. “When you keep me waiting so long, I feel like you don’t respect my time.”
3. After a routine physical, your doctor pronounces you in good shape. Nevertheless, you feel inexplicably worried. You say,
a. “That’s good to hear, but I still don’t feel quite right.”
b. “Can you do more tests for other diseases?”
c. “I know something’s wrong. Maybe you’re not the one find it.”
d. “So you think I’m good for a few thousand more miles, eh, Doc?”
4. Your orthopedist recommends surgery, which you dread. You say,
a. “Well, I’ll just live with my pain.”
b. “I’ll leave it up to you, Doctor.”
c. “I’d like time to consider it. Surgery frightens me.”
d. “I don’t think my insurance would cover it.”
5. Your father is brought into a screened ER cubicle. You go to accompany him, but an attendant tells you hospital policy requires you to stay in the waiting room. You say,
a. “Oh, excuse me. Of course.”
b. (To your father) “Don’t worry, Dad. It’ll turn out fine. I’ll see you afterward.”
c. “Step aside or you’ll be sorry.”
d. “I understand, but I need to be with him.”
6. You doctor has told you for the twentieth time that your smoking is seriously degrading your lungs. You
a. Agree, and promise yet again to give it up.
b. Get angry, and tell the doc to stop nagging you.
c. Decide to either stop smoking or change doctors.
d. In the parking lot, feel guilty about your habit as you light up.
7. You decide to try “alternative” treatments for your cancer in addition to standard medicine. You
a. Are sure your doc won’t approve, so you don’t mention it.
b. Tell your doctor, who should be aware of all your treatments.
c. Fly off to the Romanian clinic you found online.
d. Deeply consider what you believe and what you don’t.
8. Your ancient aunt is comatose and maintained on life support. She told you once that if she was ever in this condition, she’d want the “plug pulled,” and named you as her agent in her advance directive. But her doctor insists that medical ethics require support until a natural death. You
a. Reach down and pull the plug.
b. Ask your aunt’s lawyer to fax you her advance directive.
c. Argue with the doctor.
d. Realize that the doctor probably knows best.
Scoring (answers on page 130)
All correct: you are an active patient, more likely to take better care of yourself and enjoy an honest relationship with practitioners.
6-7: hang out with a “10” and try again.
4-5: you’ll experience more medical encounter snags than you need.
2-3: you and doctors shouldn’t meet without lawyers present.
0-1: take two aspirins and call someone else in the morning.
Jeff Kane is a physician and writer in Nevada City
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