Doctor, Did You Wash Your Hands?

From the NY Times:
Despite national campaigns encouraging patients to take an active role in improving hospital safety, many patients aren’t comfortable asking doctors challenging questions about their care, a new report shows.

As much as we talk about changing the culture of birth in this country, and as much fault as we sometimes find with hospitals or obstetricians, nothing will change with our healthcare in general, or birth in particular, without consumers asking for that change.

Why do we treat doctors as authority figures? Why are we afraid of making them angry or disappointed in us? Why would we rather sacrifice our own or our children's health than risk offending? They do not naturally have that power or authority -- in fact, consumers hire their care providers. We have the right to receive the information we need, as well as the care. Would you tolerate it if your mechanic was snippy or evasive if you asked a question about a recommended repair on your car? Would you keep going back to that mechanic, and recommend him to your friends?

“Patients need to feel they can ask questions that may be perceived as challenging without causing offense to those involved in their health care treatment,'’ the study authors wrote.

Women, if you have ideas about how you want to give birth, you must communicate with your doctor. If you're afraid to ask questions or make your intentions known and stand by them, it's not realistic to think you'll get the birth you want. And if your doctor does seem offended when you ask a question, isn't that an excellent sign that s/he isn't the right care provider for you?

In addition to it being part of your own health, dealing with your care team is one of our first acts of parenting. Now is an excellent time to start advocating for your baby. Start with asking questions!

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