Communicating Effectively With Your Physician
Donald Aulds, M.D.
A common complaint that I hear from people is that their doctor does not always give them a chance to ask questions. So the person leaves the office not certain of what was done or how to take care of themselves. Here are some simple tips to help you get the most out of your next office visit:
First visit to an office:
Be prepared to provide concise information to the medical care worker from the beginning of the visit. You may even want to write it down beforehand. It would be beneficial to have the following information ready:
- A description of the problem for which you are seeking medical care. Be as precise as possible about the symptoms and how long it has been going on.
- Information as to whether the problem is constant or occurs occasionally
- If pain is present, give a description as to where it is located, if it is mild or severe, if it moves to other areas, or if it interferes with activities or routines of normal life.
- A precise list of past medical problems.
- Current medications, dosage, and frequency of use. It is not helpful to tell the doctor that you are on a heart medication but have no idea of what it is or how much you take.
- List of previous surgeries. Be specific.
- Allergies to medications and foods. This will help the doctor know what he can and cannot prescribe for you. Again, be specific.
- Family medical history
- If you have questions, try to be concise on the questions and donít try to ask the same question several times. Your physicians want to help, but if you do this, he or she may feel that you are trying to trick him or her into answering the question in different ways.
Be careful to ask your questions in a precise manner. Keep in mind that your doctor probably keeps a tight schedule, and generalized questions may not result in the answers you are looking for and will likely prolong the visit unnecessarily.
You deserve to have your questions answered, and with these simple techniques, the two-way communication between you and your doctor will improve dramatically.