What doctors wish their patients knew

February 28, 2011 8:35:14 PM PST
Having a good primary-care doctor is key to your well-being, according to Consumer Reports. But even if you have a good doctor, you may not be getting all the benefits. Two new surveys of doctors and patients reveal ways you can optimize your care.

Many of the 660 primary-care doctors surveyed by Consumer Reports National Research Center said that patients really benefited from a long-term relationship with their doctor. But 37 percent of the doctors said that patients not following advice affected their ability to provide optimal care a lot. Consumer Reports advises patients to ask as many questions as necessary about treatment and to follow instructions. But if the treatment isn't working or you're having side effects, before you do anything else, call your doctor.

Most doctors also said it helped for patients to keep a file of their health records. But in a separate survey of Consumer Reports subscribers, only 25 percent of patients said they actually kept track of their medical history.

When it comes to patients researching medical conditions online, there was another big divide?61 percent of patients thought online research was helpful, but only 8 percent of doctors agreed. Consumer Reports advice: If you want to research health on the Internet, be smart about it. Avoid sites that are sponsored by advertisers or that are trying to guide you to a specific product or treatment.

To get more accurate health information, rather than just searching Google, go to reliable sites such as:

ConsumerReports.org/Health: www.consumerreports.org/health/home.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov

Food and Drug Administration for drug information: www.fda.gov

MedlinePlus for information about conditions and diseases: www.medlineplus.gov

National Cancer Institute: www.cancer.gov

Academic treatment-center sites such as www.mayoclinic.com and www.clevelandclinic.org

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this Web site.