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The Importance of Patient Input During Medical Diagnosis

, The Importance of Patient Input During Medical Diagnosis

Patient input is absolutely essential during medical diagnosis. While physicians have access to your electronic health records, this information often does not reflect current conditions. Regardless of the reason you are currently seeking care, you must provide honest feedback during medical diagnosis. Doctors can prescribe an effective course of treatment only when they have all the relevant information. Sometimes, however, a physician will ask probing questions in order to rule out certain diagnoses, or to move the conversation toward symptoms of a particular condition. These questions may involve detailed explanations of your sexual history, family medical history, and electronic health records. Even if the conversation is headed in an uncomfortable direction, give honest feedback to your physician’s questions to maximize the effectiveness of your course of treatment.


Concealed information can have a wide variety of consequences. For example, if you hide the fact that you drink alcohol regularly or consume certain medications, prescription drugs may complicate the drug interactions already taking place in your body. This can directly conflict with a physician’s prescribed course of treatment, as well as lengthening recovery time and jeopardizing your chances for a full recovery. Your doctor may also ask you about any physical activity at work, exercise at home, presence of pets and children, foods and beverages recently consumed, overall eating and drinking habits, smoking habits, etc.


Questions regarding your sexual history may be particularly off-putting. Honest patient input is essential even if you can’t reason the doctor’s line of questioning, or if you think your condition has nothing to do with your sexual history. Doctors know that sex can expose the body to an incredibly wide variety of chemicals, potential allergens, and new interactions that can produce many different symptoms. A frank discussion of sexual history is especially relevant if a woman is pregnant or is sexually active, as pregnancy produces vast hormonal and physical changes in the body, including marked differences in brain chemistry. Pregnancy also complicates potential drug interactions, limiting doctors in what they may prescribe during your course of treatment. Patient input will help doctors avoid prescribing exercises or medications that will harm the mother and child.


Once your medical diagnosis is complete, update your physician regularly with any new information, including effectiveness of the course of treatment and any changes in your condition. Again, doctors can only make effective adjustments if you evaluate the need for potential changes during your recovery. Remember that one can benefit from you hiding that a course of treatment is ineffective.

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