Making a truly informed medical decision
involves more than a single decision. It is a step-by-step
process in which you take responsibility for making
a number of decisions. Your decision to seek Mr. D'Urso's
help was the first step in that process. The rest of
the process is described below. Various treatment options
for specific conditions are also accessable via the
You can't make an informed decision about something
you do not understand. So your first step is to gain
knowledge about your disease. To accomplish this, you
will need to:
listen carefully to your health care
professionals when you are presented with a diagnosis
of your condition and a description of your treatment
thoroughly read any literature provided by your health
seek out information on your own (many associations
provide literature free of charge to the general public);
and ask questions about anything you do not understand.
DECISION #1: Am I willing to
take a studious approach to understanding my condition?
2. Weigh the risks and benefits
Once you have gained adequate information about
your condition, you must next weigh the risks and benefits
associated with your various treatment options. Keep
in mind the impact your condition has on your way of
life. Consider the limitations that your symptoms place
on your ability to perform those activities that are
most important to you.
In some cases, you may discover that
the risks involved in having a particular treatment
are greater than the benefit you may gain from it. In
other cases, the benefit to be gained may outweigh any
possible risk. Discuss these issues with your family,
and ask your health care team about anything you do
DECISION #2: Do the potential benefits of this treatment
outweigh the possible risks?
3. Develop realistic expectations
What do you want to accomplish
by having medical treatment? Do you want to simply gain
relief from pain or do you want to return to a particular
level of physical activity? After you determine what
your goals are, ask your health care professional if
your expectations are realistic and what you will have
to do to accomplish your goals.
DECISION #3: Am I willing to develop
and accept realistic expectations?
4. Commit to working at recovery
Medical treatment may help to
relieve your symptoms, but can't heal your body or return
it to a former state of health. Treatment is only the
beginning of your recovery process. As your body begins
to heal on its own, you must make a physical and a mental
commitment to working at regaining your lost abilities.
Recognize that it is your effort, your lifestyle choices
and the severity of your medical condition that will
determine the degree to which you can return to a normal
level of activity.
DECISION #4: Am I willing to work
at recovery, including making lifestyle changes if necessary?
5. Make a final decision
After you have answered the
first four questions, all that remains is for you to
make a final decision about which treatment option is
best for you. It may be helpful to discuss your options
with your family and members of your health care team,
but in the end only you can make the final decision.
Once you make that decision, trust in it, look to the
future and work to achieve the best possible recovery.