Patient-Doctor Communication is Key to Safety with Any Heart Imaging Test

From a young age, most of us have probably heard “Honesty is the best policy” and that is never truer than when you are visiting your doctor. Does he need to know every small facet of your personal life? No, but what your doctor does need to know are the things that could be affecting your health, mood or treatment plans. Doctors use symptoms along with your personal and familial history when they are making diagnoses or offering medical advice so it is critical that patients keep their physician informed and their answers honest.

It is ironic that people, more often than not, choose to lie to a person designated to help them. Maybe it is because of vanity, embarrassment or fear of judgment that keeps people misinforming their doctors but in the end, they are not only doing themselves a disservice but they are wasting their doctor’s time.

However, it isn’t only the patient’s responsibility to be honest, doctors must also keep a level of transparency with their patients. Undoubtedly, doctors explaining complicated surgeries and procedures may go over some patient’s head but when it comes to explaining risk, doctors should be as informative and honest as possible. One area that doctors need to begin clarifying the potential risk is around medical imaging procedures.

There are so much misinformation surrounding medical imaging and with all the advances and discoveries being made every year, it is easier for patients when their doctors explain the benefits and risks instead of attempting to do independent research. One area of medical imaging that has garnered recent attention from both patients and physicians is subjects regarding the heart imaging test. Any heart imaging test involving radiation presents a certain degree of risk but only through strong patient-doctor communication can this risk be mitigated.

According to a recent publication from the American Heart Association, “”Radiation-related risk is one of the factors that should be considered in the decision to use cardiovascular imaging with ionizing radiation, particularly in younger patients in whom the potential risk of radiation exposure is thought to be higher.”  The article also brings up a valid point in that because there is no federal regulation on the amount of radiation to be used in medical imaging tests, it is up to the healthcare provider to make the proper estimate. Many patients do not know these potential risks and side effects to overexposure to radiation. While this may sound alarmist to some, the chances of developing cancer due to medical imaging tests is extremely small and the benefits far outweigh the potential risks.

Medical imaging tests of the heart are now the most common way to determine the symptoms of heart disease, typically CTs and PET-CT scans. These exams, although extremely informative, still use small doses of radiation in order to create images.

At Doctors Imaging in Metairie, the machines that we use for imaging procedures is state-of-the-art equipment with the most recent updates. And the machinery that does operate with radiation is calibrated to the lowest possible setting that will still produce a viable image for a physician’s perusal. In addition to our equipment, prior to any procedure our technicians will consult with the patient in order to inform them of what is going to be taking place, questions about their health and answer any questions they may have.

If you have other questions, please either contact us online via this form, or call our experts at 504-883-8111.

Honesty is the Best Policy for Diagnostic Medical Imaging Appointments

When you have a scheduled appointment for medical imaging, there are several questions that probably run through your mind.

What could they find?
Will this hurt?
Did I do this to myself?

While all of those questions are important, what is more pressing are the questions your doctor or technician poses to you. At the beginning of every exam, the doctor or nurse usually asks a series of questions about what has brought you to their office, clerical information concerning address and insurance, symptom questions and other inquiries into your life. This is not meant to be invasive, this is just so that a doctor or healthcare facility can have all the appropriate and updated information at the ready in order to begin the exam or procedure.

While the questions asked may seem probing or too personal, it is crucial that you answer the questions honestly and with as much detail as possible. Doctors ask a variety of questions about your allergies, changes in mood or appetite, lifestyle choices, all so that they can have an accurate picture of your current health and furthermore, protect you from becoming sicker or injured further. These questions are purely for diagnostic medical purposes.

Your physician may ask about your past health, your family’s health, eating habits, or any number of questions. Some of these questions are difficult for others to answer because they are afraid of doctors passing judgment or their answer having a negative effect on their insurance premium. Questions like prescription and recreational drug use, alcohol intake, smoking or other negative habits, are asked only in the interest of getting the most complete history and to make sure that nothing you are given in the surgery or exam could be harmful.

For example, if you are a heavy drinker, you could possibly have problems with your kidney function. With excess alcohol consumption over a long period of time, your body can develop serious problems such as an enlarging of the kidneys or hormonal imbalances due to kidney malfunction. Now that might be considered a personal issue not worth sharing to you but it could create negative effects on your diagnostic medical imaging procedure. Imagine that you are scheduled for an MRI at Doctors Imaging. Once again, you may not see the connection between having a medical imaging procedure performed and your recreational activities. However, during some CTs or MRIs, doctors will often administer contrast fluid intravenously into the body so that certain areas, blockages or blood vessels can be enhanced or highlighted. But if the patient has kidney problems, the body doesn’t filter the contrast material into urine like it should, so it can clog into the body’s other systems and cause serious internal damage.

Another example of the importance of honesty with your doctor is if you are lying about pain. Some people, particularly men, often minimize their pain and try to brush off injuries. In doing so, they can risk further hurting themselves by not being honest with doctors. A doctor may prescribe medication for the pain but if he or she doesn’t know the exact degree of pain, they cannot write the proper dosage or they could make a treatment that will exacerbate the problem rather than relieving it. Remember, in order for your doctors to properly diagnose you, they need the truthful answers to their diagnostic medical imaging questions.

These are just a few stories, but there are many others about the negative outcomes of lying to physicians. If you are concerned about judgment, it can be from worry that the doctor will not understand why you do something or the fear that the doctor will attempt to stop you from doing a specific habit. Either way, your doctor has a duty to do no harm toward you, they are more concerned with getting you better rather than judging you for lifestyle choices. Their job is to keep you as healthy as possible and the best way to do that is to keep the lines of communication between you and doctor as open and honest as possible.

At Doctors Imaging, we’re Radiologists concerned about Patient Care. If you’re looking for diagnostic medical imaging, you can request an imaging test quote online or by calling 504-883-8111.