Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Talking with the Doctor

There is much to be gained by improving communication with health care professionals, especially physicians. Positive outcomes include: better care for the patient, less stress and illness for the caregiver, more efficient use of doctors’ time, reduced cost for the health care system, and more satisfaction for all concerned. Here are some tips for improving communication with your doctor. Try them on your next visit. Write questions down so you won’t forget them. Think about the main reason for your visit and what you expect from the doctor as you prepare for your visit. Making a list in advance increases the likelihood your office visit will meet your needs. Be clear about what you want to say to the doctor. Try not to ramble. Discuss your main concerns first. This is important because if you wait until the end of your appointment there may not be time to properly deal with the main reasons for your visit. If you have lots of things to talk about, make a consultation appointment, so the doctor can allow enough time to meet with you in an unhurried way. Educate yourself about your disease or disability. With all the information on the Internet it is easier than ever before. Learn the routine at your doctor’s office and/or the hospital so you can make the system work for you not against you. Introduce yourself to the doctor’s office staff. Getting to know the staff often means better service. Recognize that not all questions have answers – especially those beginning with “why”. Separate your anger and sense of importance about not being able to help your loved one as much as you would like from your feelings about the doctor. Remember, you are both on the same side. Appreciate what the doctor is doing to help and say thank you from time to time. Every doctor visit and treatment presents you with choices; here are some common situations and tips for responses: The doctor has prescribed a specific treatment for your condition, but you aren’t feeling much better. Maybe it’s the wrong treatment for you, or maybe you’re taking the right treatment in the wrong way. Ask about alternatives for any treatment you find burdensome, such as a medication that must be taken in the middle of the night. Ask for clarification about the diagnosis and treatment plan and the reasons the doctor recommends it, what the treatment will accomplish, and restrictions on activities, food, or driving the and reasons for the restrictions. Find out about recovery and how long it will take to get back to normal, not just to feel better. The side effects seem worse than the cure. If you’re concerned about the side effects of medication on your health or well-being, let your doctor know. Perhaps there is a different treatment that is just as effective without the side effects. Don’t keep quiet about it – your health may suffer. A recommended treatment makes you uneasy. Don’t rush into important health decisions. Usually there will be time to carefully examine your alternatives. Ask, “Why do I need this surgery?” or “Are there any alternatives to this treatment?” or “What are the risks and benefits?” Get a second opinion if necessary. Remember, there is a better chance of getting a second opinion of you ask for it than if you don’t ask. Get your questions answered. Ask about tests and treatments and the reasons for them. What do you expect to learn from the test? When can I expect to hear the results of the tests? How will I feel afterward? Are there any other options to having this test? You want to build a partnership with the physician and other health care providers. I hope these tips help you improve your comfort when talking to your doctor.

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