What are some tips for communicating with doctors?
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Last Update: April 22, 2008
Communication is the key to building a good relationship with your doctor and getting the best possible care. Here are seven steps to good communication:
- Be prepared.
- Share information.
- Tell your doctor about any current symptoms; if there are several, rank them in order of which ones you think are the most troubling.
- Tell your doctor if you are having trouble with daily activities (like bathing or dressing).
- Do not be embarrassed. Health issues can be hard to talk about, but it is important that your doctor has all the information so he can recommend the best possible care.
- Do not wait to be asked. If your doctor does not specifically ask for information you think is important, tell him.
- Ask questions.
- If you do not understand something your doctor says, ask him to explain it.
- Record information.
- Write down what your doctor says; you may think you will remember everything the doctor said, but you would be surprised how much most people forget. Another option: ask your doctor if you can bring a small tape recorder.
- Get it in writing.
- Ask your doctor to write down what you should do between now and your
next visit. This may include instructions for how to take medications or lifestyle modifications.
- Don’t be rushed—but be polite.
- If you do not feel like you have had enough time to ask all your questions,
let the doctor know. But be aware that he probably needs to meet with other patients. If he does not have more time during your appointment, you may ask if there is a good time to talk by phone, or if a nurse might be available to take your questions.
- Follow up.
- If you realize afterwards that you have questions, if you have symptoms
that get worse, or if you need to make a test appointment or find out test results, call your doctor. Many doctors now will answer e-mail questions from their patients. Find out if this is a possibility.
If you are a caregiver and want tips on how to advocate for your loved one’s interests, click on the link in the GO TO box.
For tips on how to make sure your doctor provides the best possible care, click on the link in the GO TO box.