4 Doctors Reveal the Biggest Mistakes Patients Make

By Wendy Bacigalupi-Bednarz, Editorial Contributor

Mistakes come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe you set your alarm clock for 6:00 pm instead of 6:00 am, put your shirt on inside out at the gym or made a wrong turn on the way to work. These mistakes are easy to fix. Other mistakes are not so easy — especially when it comes to safeguarding your health. Four doctors reveal the biggest mistakes they see patients make and how you can avoid them to get and stay well.

1. Being Uninformed

The transition from passive patient to active healthcare consumer is underway. Ignorance is no longer bliss but a liability that can put your health at greater risk. Dr. Nikita Shah, a breast oncologist at Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center, notes these mistakes:

  • Researching health information on the internet and assuming it is true, scientific and applies to your individual situation. It’s important to know and trust where your information comes from. Your doctor is the best place to start.
  • Not recognizing symptoms of the most common health issues affecting Americans, including cancer, heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
  • Not asking your doctor questions about your condition, concerns and issues. Try making a checklist of questions to bring to your appointment and review it with your doctor.

2. Making Assumptions

Assuming everything is fine — or maybe just a little off — can affect wellness and increase risks for more serious and chronic conditions. According to Dr. Hector Ramirez, an OB-GYN with Orlando Health Physician Associates, some assumptions to avoid include:

  • Skipping routine exams because you “feel fine.” Missing regular check-ins with your physician can prevent the early detection and treatment of problems.
  • Expecting that no news is good news. If you don’t get a call back from the doctor’s office about test results, don’t assume the results are normal. When in doubt, call your doctor.
  • Thinking that bleeding, tingling, pain or a lump is no big deal. If constant or recurring, these can be warning signs of looming issues that need to be evaluated by your doctor.

3. Rushing Through the Process

If you do get injured or become ill, invest the time to make the best decisions for your long-term health along the way. These are some of the ways patients undermine their health by moving too fast, says Dr. Daryl Osbahr, a sports medicine physician and orthopedic surgeon at Orlando Health:

  • Rushing to choose a doctor. Take your time when choosing a doctor skilled in your specific illness, injury or disease.
  • Not considering all treatment options. Ask critical questions assessing whether surgery is really necessary or whether non-surgical options can be considered.
  • Speeding through healing. This is a big no-no that can result in increased risk for re-injury or re-emergence of symptoms.

4. Avoiding Commitment

Once you start to feel better, what do you do? Returning to old habits instead of committing to a new normal can doom your recovery and send you back to the doctor — or worse. Dr. Kiran Mogali, an interventional cardiologist at Orlando Health Heart Institute Cardiology Group, says these behaviors can put you at risk for recurring problems:

  • Stopping medications once you start to feel better. It’s important to talk to your doctor before stopping or changing medications.
  • Skipping out on follow-up care such as a rehabilitation program or physical therapy. Spend time choosing the right setting and provider for your prescribed follow up care, and then go to your sessions.
  • Not adopting a healthier lifestyle. Many diseases have lifestyle-related links, including smoking, poor nutrition, insufficient exercise and alcohol consumption. Talk to your doctor to make lasting lifestyle changes you can stick with.

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