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AARP Bulletin

5 Things Your Doctor Dislikes About You

Don't be labeled a 'difficult patient'

4. You diagnose your own medical problem and tell the doctor how to treat it

Doctors grumble about patients who diagnose their own ailments or direct their own treatment. "When patients start diagnosing their own problems, we all have a problem," says Boston University's Price. "I just want them to tell me their symptoms."

Stein of New York University has the same complaint: "I don't want a patient to tell me what tests to order. Why come to me if you're going to run your own case?" He adds, "It would be much better to ask, 'Does such-and-such a test make sense for me?' Then we could have a reasonable discussion."

Here's a tip: Ask the doctor's advice, don't give him yours.

5. You start asking questions just as the doctor heads out the door

To get the most out of the short time you have for an office visit — anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes at latest count — it pays to come prepared with a list of questions you'd like answered. But doctors inwardly groan when you pull out a long list just as your appointment's ending. To keep the smile on your doctor's face and get the answers you need, mention at the start of your appointment that you have some questions to go over. That way, says NYU's Stein, you'll alert your doctor to leave time at the end of the visit for your questions.

Here's a tip: If you have a lot of questions, there may not be time to answer all of them. Put a star next to the five most important ones and ask those first.

Nissa Simon, who lives in New Haven, Conn., writes about nutrition and medical issues.

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