In many ways we should consider ourselves healthcare customers. We are customers with our doctors just like we are customers in a restaurant or store. There are certain ways we expect to be treated. If we don’t like the service in a restaurant or how a salesperson has spoken to us, we have the right to leave and to complain to management. When it comes to healthcare and medicine, I also believe that we can have a say in how we are treated and to ask as many questions as necessary to understand what is being recommended for our care.

I do believe everyone with a new condition or problem should be evaluated by a medical doctor. Western medicine does have the best diagnostic equipment in the world. Western medicine is also the best for emergency medicine.

When there is a non-emergency or chronic condition, we can become advocates in our own healthcare. It’s good to hear what the doctor recommends and take it under consideration. Afterall, the doctor does have your best interests in mind. But the doctor may not be well versed in options that may be less invasive or requiring less medications. This is where we as patients have a right to have a voice in our treatment process.

I believe that one of the many reasons acupuncture has become such a popular option for many, is that in addition to making all kinds of physical problems better, acupuncturists listen to patients and treat them as a whole person. The doctors today who still subscribe to the “my way or the highway” mentality are not the doctors that patients like to go to or speak well of to others.

So, it’s up to us, as healthcare customers to consider all of the options to treat our specific problem. Because there are alternatives and different ways to treat problems, we have to do our research and find out what might work as well or even better and with fewer side effects.

Just because a doctor tells you to take another drug or have asurgery, (it might be that you need to take that drug and have that surgery), you can also wonder and question whether there may be another way to treat the pain or deal with the problem (reflux, depression, hot flashes, migraines, etc). Is it possible to manage or treat the problem without drugs? Can surgery be avoided through acupuncture and physical therapy? Remember, once you cut, you can’t go back. It’s certainly worth trying everything before undergoing anesthesia. So I do think we have to be smart consumers of medical care. It’s about taking responsibility.

We are very lucky in Houston as we have a world class medical center and hospitals and world class doctors. But it’s also ok to have a little healthy skepticism and consider all our options.

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