Monday, April 16, 2012

Communicating effectively with your doctor

One of the most prevalent communications gaps is between doctors and patients. Many people feel inferior and are intimidated by what they believe to be the doctor's superior expertise. Often the encounter with the physician is rushed and many people feel like they don’t have enough time to ask all their questions.

These tips will have you communicating more effectively with prescribers during office visits:

1. Prepare for Your Appointment: Doctor's offices these days are a flurry of activity. So unless you're having an initial evaluation, your visit is likely to be as brief as 20 to 30 minutes. Here's how to come prepared:
-Arrive early.
-Bring a list of your symptoms.
-Bring a list of all medications you now take. Be sure to include all over-the-counter medications -- including vitamins, herbals and other supplements. These are medications, too.
-Purchase a spiral notebook and title it simply "My Mental and Physical Health." ---Use it to jot down specific questions you have for the doctor, and to take notes as your questions are answered.

2. Keep It Simple: During your visit, ask your physician or other
caregiver, "What do you think is wrong with me?"

3. Ask About Testing: Your physician may advise that certain psychological tests are warranted to better clarify your problem.

4. Explore Your Treatment Options

5. Prescription Medication: At a minimum, you need to know the following:
-What kind of medication is being prescribed for me?
-For what length of time will I be taking it?
-What can I realistically expect from this medication?
-What are the medication's typical side effects? Can I combat these side effects, and if so, how? Do these side effects diminish over time?

7. Don't Hold Your Tongue:Remember though, you are the customer! And without "customers," physicians have no practices. So don't leave the office until you have answers to all your questions. And be sure they're answers you actually understand.

8. Don't Withhold Information: Doctors aren't mind-readers. If you're not sharing information because you believe it is too sensitive or irrelevant to your visit, please reconsider. What you're withholding just might be a key piece of the puzzle to finding out what's wrong and how to treat you.

9. Bring a Buddy: Companions can help you relax, remind you of questions you need to ask, and help you interpret what the doctor said. If your visit concerns a particularly sensitive matter, your companion can always step outside while you talk with your doctor.

10. Always Follow Up: Following up with them is your responsibility. Don't wait for your physician to call you! Ask your physician when you should have a follow-up visit. Before that date arrives, call the physician's office to make an appointment.

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