Five Ways to Be a Smart Patient

Dr. Oz prescribes 5 tips to turn you into a smarter patient.

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Learn How to Talk to Your Doctor

Before you go in for your appointment, be armed with information about what's bothering you and the answers to your doctor's most common questions. Make sure you can answer the following questions:

  1. What hurts you?
  2. Where does it hurt?
  3. How does it hurt? (For example, does it hurt all day long or only some of the day?)
  4. What makes it better and what makes it worse? This includes medications, activities and food.

Finally, don't be afraid of your doctor. If they're not helping you, go find a new one.

Learn When to Schedule an Appointment

When scheduling your doctor's appointment, keep these 3 things in mind:

  1. Call your doctor's office half and hour after they open. This assures that the office is open and can meet your needs.
  2. Be sure you know what type of appointment you'd like. Is an annual appointment? A follow-up? Does blood work need to be done? 
  3. Specify what works for you in terms of date and time. If it works for you, it's wise to get the first appointment of the day - before the office even has a chance to get backed up.

Befriend Your Pharmacist

Your pharmacist has access to your medication profiles so they can check for dangerous drug interactions. A communicative relationship with your pharmacist provides continuity of care.

Beware of Germs in Hospitals

As many as 90,000 hospital patients die each year from E. Coli, staph and other bacteria.


If you find yourself as an in-patient, there are certain things you can do to ensure the quality of care given. First, make sure that the doctors and nurses entering your room wash their hands or use hand-sanitizer before and after they examine you. You should also ask visitors to do the same. Another tip for cleanliness and germ prevention is to wipe down the remote control and bed rails with sanitizer.

If you are a patient with a weak immune system, or if you're visiting a patient with a weak immune system, don't bring flowers! They introduce a host of germs and should best be enjoyed when the patient is well enough to go home.

How to Get a Second Opinion

Your doctor is not going to be insulted if you get a second opinion - in fact they expect you to! Treatment plans change approximate 1/3 of the time when a second opinion is sought. The diagnoses and recommendations made by each doctor can be cross-referenced - and if your 2 doctors don't agree - get a third opinion. Don't be bashful when it comes to your health. 

See Dr. Oz's Smart Patient Checklist.