Ways to Improve Communication With Your Doctor
Going to the doctor can be intimidating. If you’re not prepared, a doctor visit can leave you fishing for answers and not feeling like you’ve found a solution to your problem.
How can you make visits to your physician more informative and valuable for you and your family? Have a look at the suggestions below to maximize your effectiveness during doctor visits.
The most important way to prepare for a doctor visit is coming to the doctor with written questions that you are prepared to ask. In addition to your written questions, the perfect patient or family member comes to the doctor visit with a document listing these four things:
1. Current medications with honest dosage use.
2. All current physicians and other medical/chiropractic/homeopathic practitioners.
3. All other health foods and over the counter vitamins, minerals and hormones you use.
4. Other treatments or programs that you are participating in to better your health.
When you visit more than one doctor on a regular basis, communicating effectively with all of them can be a burden. After jumping from one specialist to another, it’s easy to lose track of important details that your doctor may need to know.
In order to make your visits with other specialists easier, ask your doctor if he knows the other doctors you visit and if he is communicating with them. If not, ask your doctor to send copies of his notes to the other practitioners that you visit.
At the end of each visit you can cover all of your bases by asking any of these questions below that apply to your care situation.
1. Ask your doctor to review all medicines including over-the-counter medicines, and ask him to give you written, revised instructions at the end of each visit.
2. Tell your physician about what has happened to you—both good and bad—since your last visit. Ask about the significance of any changes you experience, and ask if there are any concerns or risks with changing a treatment plan.
3. If a physician ever tells you, “That’s not my area of expertise,” ask who you should see and ask the physician to include a recommendation in his clinic notes for follow up.
4. Ask your physician to examine any body part you are concerned about. If you have a rash, ask him to look at the rash. If you are having difficulty with balance, ask for a neurological exam before you receive a CT or MRI. If you are experiencing shortness of breath, ask the physician to listen to your chest and heart before an ultrasound or chest X-ray. Sometimes, as a patient you need to ask that simple exams be performed before the expensive tests.
5. Most importantly, always ask your physician about what you didn’t understand. Ask him to write down any new recommendations he has for you.
Don’t let the doctor’s office intimidate you any longer. With a few of these thoughtful preparations and questions, you can feel confident and in control on the days of your doctor visits.
By: Dr. Michael Stoltz, Cariloop Director