These days, a visit to a doctor's office can be a financial setback or a major time commitment. However, there are a few strategies informed consumers can employ to receive free medical advice from doctors. Remember that information is your best friend, so research your question thoroughly before approaching doctors for free advice.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Computer with Internet access
Study your question as thoroughly as possible so that you understand its implications. Be sure you are using appropriate terminology, because doctors are not going to devote a big chunk of time to an unclear or incorrectly posed question.
Write down your question. Make a brief outline of any sub-questions you might have. You might want to jot down follow-up questions you need to ask that depend upon the doctor's particular answer.
Begin with your medical provider. If you are insured, many providers offer a telephone number where members can call and ask advice. In some cases, your concerns may be addressed by an advice nurse rather than a doctor, however.
E-mail your provider. If you are insured, many providers now allow patients to e-mail the doctor directly with any questions or concerns. Keep your message short and to the point, but be sure to include all symptoms and how long the symptoms have been present. Refer to any significant medications, medical history or family history issues that might be relevant.
Go online. If you are not insured or if you are dissatisfied with your provider's services or advice, consult one of the many online forums that are overseen by licensed doctors. MedHelp (see Resources) has extensive forums as well as live chats with doctors.
Tips and warnings
- Keep records of all your medications, appointments and major treatments.
- Do not rely on online medical advice in urgent or dangerous situations.
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