Ever wondered why one doctor will prescribe a drug, and another one won’t? Or why one doctor recommends a path of treatment – and another one doesn’t?
Part of making an informed choice about your treatment involves the understanding of something health professionals call Treatment Practice Variation. Extensive research has shown that doctors will have a personal preference for the treatment they select, and this can vary widely. With no hard facts to refer to, how do you find out what will suit you best? Treatment Practice Variation has been studied in great detail in the US. Find out more
Know the right questions to ask
Seven basic questions to ask your GP that can help you get the right treatment:
- What is the test for?
- When will I get the results?
- What are the possible complications of surgery?
- Which hospital is best for my needs?
- How do you spell the name of that medicine?
- Are there any side-effects?
- Will this medicine interact with any other medicines I’m already taking?
Who, What, Why, When, How?
If you are considering surgery, you should ask your consultant:
- Why do I need this surgery?
- What (if any) are the alternatives to surgery?
- How many times a week or a month does s/he undertake this particular procedure?
- When did s/he do the last one?
- Who will make up the anaesthetic/surgical team? Does s/he work regularly with the team who will undertake your procedure?
- Will s/he share treatment outcome data with your GP?
Finding your own way
Ask your doctor about the Treatment Pathway – a stage-by-stage outline of the various episodes of your care programme, such as consultations, diagnosis, medication and hospital stays. You can see how diagnosis and treatment come together at the Map of Medicine. www.nhs.uk gives you access to step-by-step information on Planning Treatments for specific conditions. You can see what treatment options are available and find out what you can expect to happen throughout the various stages of your treatment.