Neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta reports on medicine and health for CNN. He says that an informed patient is a safer, smarter patient.
- Know Your Condition: Get a thorough description of your condition or diagnosis from your doctor in writing. One of Oprah's friends recently took a tape recorder to her doctor's office, so that she could go over everything later.
- Beware of Unusual Medical Degrees: Don't be shy about asking your physician about his or her accreditations. And don't trust anyone who claims to have an exclusive treatment.
- Track Record: Investigate your doctor's track record, success rate, and whether he's ever been sued for malpractice.
- Get a Second Opinion: Your doctor shouldn't take personal offense if you decide to get another professional's opinion.
- What's New?: Find out if your surgeon is up to date on new techniques. Some older surgeons are not.
- Ask, Ask, Ask: Ask who will be doing the operation, and how long your doctor will have been awake before your operation is scheduled. Dr. Gupta recommends asking if your surgery can be performed early in the morning and early in the week. That's when doctors are more likely to be fresh.
- Mark Your Body: Use a marker on your body to designate where you shouldn't be cut. This can help prevent accidental mistakes like operating on the incorrect knee. From the show Outrageous Medical Mistakes