Do doctors intimidate you? If you answered “yes,” that could be very bad news for your health, because research shows that patients who are too shy to speak up to their doctor take longer to recover from surgery, and suffer more complications! So, here’s how to politely get tough with your doctor, according to Dr. David Shulkin:

  • Sticky situation #1: You’re worried that your doctor hasn’t washed their hands. Each year, there are more than two million infections spread in hospitals, and studies show that 70 percent of those infections could be prevented if the medical staff simply washed their hands! That means you should never feel rude about confronting your doctor before they lay a finger on you. Say something like: “I’m sorry, but I’m really nervous about infections. Would you mind washing your hands before we start?”

  • A 2nd sticky situation: You’re uncomfortable with the way your exam is going. Let’s say a nurse is having a hard time locating a vein in your arm for a blood sample. There’s no law saying you have to endure the discomfort of being stuck with a needle over and over again. So, say something like: “I’d appreciate if someone with more experience were helping me.” 

  • Here’s one more situation where you need to speak up and get tough: Your doctor accidentally calls you the wrong name. So your name is Pam, but your doctor slips and calls you Patty during your appointment. No big deal, right? Actually, there have been cases where a patient went along with their doctor’s mistake, and wound up being charged for extensive medical tests that were intended for another patient! 

Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to correct your doctor, no matter how small or innocent their goof seems to be.