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general advice

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Discussing Symptoms with your Doctor

  • Many patients now research their symptoms online before visiting a doctor. In some cases, this may provide the doctor with useful information, but increasingly doctors are being presented with long printouts from Google and having to waste valuable time explaining that the sites you looked at were either wrong or misleading.
  • If you’ve used the Isabel Symptom Checker, your doctor will be reassured that the site you’ve used produces the same level of accuracy as the Isabel Diagnostic Tool used daily by doctors around the world. And if he isn’t familiar with the site, you can reassure him that Isabel is a medically validated system which has been endorsed by the American Medical Association and the prestigious British Medical Journal. He should then be reassured that you have been looking at reputable sources and, therefore, listen to you more carefully.
  • Printing out the list of diagnoses from the Symptom Checker to show your doctor is easy and provides a useful checklist for your discussion. If you’re not happy with the doctor’s diagnosis, an important question to ask him is “What else could this be?”

Don’t be afraid of disagreeing with your doctor

  • Recent research has shown that many patients are reluctant to express disagreement with their doctor for fear of damaging their relationship and, ultimately, receiving worse care. You should certainly not be afraid of asking questions and seeking clarification or expressing doubts about your diagnosis; after all it’s your health that is at stake. In most cases your doctor will welcome the research you have done and your questions; remember that he or she does not have the time that you have and cannot be expected to know about every disease.
  • You should think of the doctor as a detective trying to find the criminal - in this case the disease that is causing your symptoms. The detective carries out interviews and collects all the facts and then tries to put together possible theories for what happened. In the same way, the doctor will ask you questions, examine you and then put together some possible theories for what could be causing your symptoms, in other words the possible diagnoses. Just as detectives depend on input from witnesses and suspects to home in on the culprit, so the doctor is helped by and depends on your input and suggestions.
  • The work you do using Isabel will help you articulate clearly which symptoms are bothering you most and reading up on other possible diagnoses may prompt you to think of other relevant questions which you could ask your doctor. Remember, if your diagnosis is delayed you will suffer far more than anybody else so you owe it to yourself, family and friends to do the research and speak up.
Patient Discusses Possible Diagnoses With Doctor