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    Three Questions for Good Health

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | October 25th, 2020

    Three Questions for Good Health

    My daughter took my eight year old car for servicing recently. After they performed the multi-point inspection, they came back with an estimate of over $3500.00. I ran through the list of things that needed to be done – change engine oil and filter, brake system fluid exchange, replace cabin filter, replace solenoid and ESIM and retest, replace transfer case fluid, replace serpentine belt, front differential service, replace stud rear left wheel and the list continued. When it comes to cars, the only things I know to do are change the engine oil and filter and rotate the tires. I handed the list to my husband and asked what it all meant.

    Every time I go to the mechanic, I am reminded of how difficult it may be for people dealing with the health care system. I know that medical professionals speak a language that is so foreign for some that you almost need a medical degree or know someone with a medical degree to help you.  October is Health Literacy Month. The purpose of this month is to promote the importance of understandable health information. I recently came across this definition of health literacy by Helen Osbourne – Health literacy is a shared responsibility between patients (or anyone of the receiving end of the health communication, including the lay public) and providers (or anyone on the giving end, including agencies that provide health information). Each must communicate in ways that the other can understand.

    One of my favorite tools to make sure that I get the information that I need when I go the physician’s office is Ask Me 3. These are three questions that must be answered before you leave the office.

    • What is my main problem?
    • What do I need to do?
    • Why is it important for me to do this?

    Here is an example of how it works especially since October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

    What is my main problem? You are over 40 years old and you need your mammogram.

    What do I need to do? I need you to schedule an appointment to get your mammogram. If you have insurance, a mammogram is free. If you do not have insurance, you can take advantage of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Detection Program (NBCCEDP). This program provides breast and cervical cancer screenings and diagnostic services to low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women across the United States.

    Why is it important for me to do this? A mammogram is a screening test for breast cancer, meaning it is a test that is used to find breast cancer before you have symptoms. We know that if we can find breast cancer early, we have a better chance of treating you and making sure that you will be cancer free after treatment.

    Please click here for additional information on other questions to ask your health care practitioner.

    For the record, when it comes to medical issues, my husband has no problems coming to me to ask what it all means even though he knows that I am an Obstetrician/Gynecologist.

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    Secure Your Copy of Sincerely, Your Gynecologist by Dr. Ngozi Osuagwu.

    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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    Secure Your Copy of Letters to My Sisters by Dr. Ngozi Osuagwu.

    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.

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