Back in February I wrote about Natrel Baboo, a product that caused me rather a lot of aggravation one day in the grocery store. Right around the same time that I wrote about it, the company that sells the product issued a press release that contained this line:
As a mom, the first thing you’re going to do when you hear about Baboo is call up your doctor or pediatrician…
When I read that, my first response was, “No, no, I would not call up my doctor to talk about a product that I saw in the grocery store.” Because, really, I wouldn’t. If I’m buying over-the-counter medication for myself or my children I may speak with a pharmacist about it before I buy it, but even then I wouldn’t call up my doctor. In fact, I’m pretty sure my doctor would not even take that kind of call. And if she did, it might not be for the better. I appreciate that my doctor is generally on time with her appointments, and I can only imagine that if all of her patients were calling her up to get her take on Natrel Baboo and chia seeds and multivitamins and saline nose drops that it might put her off her schedule a bit.
As I think about it, I can think of many, many situations where we’re urged to ask our doctor about a particular product. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, especially, you’re supposed to ask your doctor before you so much as choose a particular brand of toilet paper. Most of the time, I think that these warnings are meant to cover someone’s butt. By stating that you should ask your doctor, it takes the onus off the seller to guarantee that something is safe for you. Instead, the responsibility falls back to the doctor, who one presumes has nothing better to do than clear your decision to opt for two-ply instead of three-ply for your wiping needs.
From time to time I listen to White Coat, Black Art on CBC Radio, which is sort of like Canada’s NPR. The show aims to discuss medical issues from the doctor’s perspective. On one of the episodes, there were a number of doctors talking about “the list”. This is when a patient comes to them for one reason, and then at the end of the appointment pulls out a list with a whole bunch of questions that have nothing to do with whatever else they’ve discussed. The patients save the questions up, because they’re not that pressing. Once they’re at the doctor’s office, though, they decide to cover off everything at once. The problem with this is that, just like a doctor who spends all day fielding phone calls, a doctor who is suddenly confronted with a dozen questions is thrown off schedule.
The conclusion that the doctors on the show reached was that if you have multiple medical issues, or even just a whole lot of questions, you need multiple medical appointments to cover them off. They suggest letting the receptionist know this when you’re booking, so that the right amount of time is set aside for you. It keeps everyone on schedule, which is something that helps you as a patient, as well. No one likes sitting around for an hour because a doctor is behind. This suggests to me that doctors themselves are maybe not so game for fielding dozens of lifestyle questions from their patients, just because someone else is trying to avoid liability.
For myself, though, what it really comes down to is choosing to take charge of my own life. I believe that I am fully competent when it comes to making basic decisions for my own health, and that of my family. Obviously, if my kids or I are actually in need of medical care, I seek it out. I also understand that sometimes you have to go to the doctor when you’re not sick, which is why I’m up-to-date on my pap smears. But when it comes to living my life on a day-to-day basis, I don’t believe a medical opinion is required. I believe that I can be trusted to make good decisions for my family, and so I do. No phone calls to my doctor or pediatrician required.
What about you? How do you decide whether to discuss something with your doctor? I’d love to hear your thoughts!