Doc, Let’s Talk

By Joanne Kanute, BCMCLC, CSA

            Taking an active role in your health care puts the responsibility for good communication on both you and your doctor. As we grow older this becomes even more important to feel comfortable and feel free to have an open communication with your primary care doctor. If you don’t feel comfortable communicating with your doctor this will have a huge impact not only on your treatment but also your recovery.

            Many are at a loss as to how to find a doctor you are comfortable with. Make a list of the qualities that are important and really matter to you. Once you have developed an idea of what you are looking for in your doctor start asking around, check with your family, friends and other health professionals. There are many reference resources you can check with and ask questions about the doctor you are researching.

            When you go to see your doctor, go prepared! The doctor runs a very tight schedule and don’t often give you much time to think about what all you wanted to discuss. Make a list of concerns or problems that you have. Bring a list of everything you take: medications, vitamins, over-the-counter drugs, etc. Be sure to have your insurance card handy and any medical records that you would like to review with your doctor. Remember to take your glasses if you need them for reading, and if you wear hearing aids, be sure to put them in so you don’t miss what the doctor is telling you. It is always a good idea to take someone with you, they can help you remember the questions you want to ask and take notes of what the doctor has to say. Keep your doctor updated with what is happening since your last visit.

            A doctors job becomes much easier and your recovery much quicker if you share with the doctor ALL of your symptoms. Be clear and concise when you describe your symptoms, this will help the doctor identify the problem quicker. Be honest and open with your doctor, this will help them understand your condition fully and recommend the best treatment choices for you.

            When your doctor prescribes you a new medication, ask questions about that medication. Find out why you are taking it, what it is supposed to do for your condition and what the possible side effects are. When he/she suggests medical tests of any kind, ask what they hope to learn from these tests and any questions that you may have about the test itself. If you are not sure what the diagnosis means, ask!

            Always keep a list of your current medications, conditions that you have been or are being treated for, emergency contact numbers, and a list of your physician’s names and numbers. Put this list in your wallet/purse and also keep a copy posted on your refrigerator. Should you ever have a medical emergency you will have your list ready on the refrigerator should you have to call an ambulance the EMT will look for that list. If you are out and have a medical emergency you will have all of your important information right with you. Having your list current and handy could be a life saving practice. 

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