Some but not all the times proverbs ring true. Consider “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”. When for whatever reason, you, family member or friend happen to be in the emergency department, becoming your own or significant others advocate might be the way to go.

Doctors and nurses are not perfect beings. We have good and bad days just like the rest of the population. We are often rushed, forced to multitask and occasionally forget that our patients do not have medical training. What this means is that maybe we didn’t answer all your questions. Maybe you don’t understand what we just said or it just didn’t sink in. Perhaps we seemed preoccupied.

Whatever the reason, you as a patient or friend/family member of one, have every right to ask us to repeat what we just said, ask some more questions or explain something yet again about what brought you here. Remember there is no such thing as a stupid question. Don’t be afraid to suggest another cause for the complaint, as the following story illustrates.

A family friend related this true story to me. Her son, who suffered from chronic bowel inflammation or colitis, developed some ankle swelling. The doctor examined the ankle and referred them to a rheumatologist. Naturally, the rheumatologist, who deals with joint inflammation, thought this was inflammation rather than infection. She wanted to prescribe some steroids, which slow down inflammation at the expense of increasing the risk for infection. The mother wasn’t so sure. She disagreed with the specialist and after quite a bit of back and forth the specialist reluctantly agreed to an MRI of the ankle. What did it show? An infection, which required immediate surgery. The infection was treated with antibiotics. Had she gone blindly with the specialist’s recommendation of steroids, her child would have required an amputation.

Looking up your complaints on the Internet can be helpful, but often information gleaned may have come from a less than quality source. Any quality physician will welcome your opinions and take the time to explain what is going on.