Communicating with doctors

This post is part of the Patients For a Moment blog carnival, hosted this month at Abigail’s blog Hidden Courage, on the subject of “Getting the Attention You Need”. Be sure to check out her post on the 15th to read the other contributions this month.

As a patient, it is important to be able to communicate clearly to your doctor, and to get the most out of appointments. It can be very difficult, especially with tight schedules and complicated diseases, to facilitate understanding. So here are a few tips (not by any means exhausting) that I personally found helpful:

  • Make notes beforehand on what you need to say. Especially important if you have memory problems, but even if you don’t, the fluster of an appointment can easily cause something to be missed.
  • Adopt a posture and attitude of attentive listening, and be seen to take in what your doctor says, even if you disagree. I have found people more willing to listen to your side if you have listened to them.
  • Take a friend to remember things for you, and be a witness to what occurred.
  • Take notes in the appointment too, or ask the doctor to write out what they have suggested.
  • Be prepared to say “no” to things you disagree with, and stand up for yourself. If you know it will be harmful, don’t do it.
  • Conversely, be prepared to make compromises to get what you need. Your doctor might for example be unwilling to take certain actions until every avenue has been explored.
  • Be prepared to push for help. Trying the treatment for “just one more month” for the 7th month in a row is not going to make any difference. I often suspected my doctors were hoping I would just die or get better by myself so that they wouldn’t actually have to do anything.
  • If your doctor isn’t good, change. And if they have acted to your harm, put in a complaint. They might be harming other patients too.
  • Don’t try to ‘dress up’, or put on make-up to go; just look how you ordinarily look. It might make you feel self-conscious, but your doctor needs to know how you really are day-to-day to form an accurate diagnosis.
  • Be prepared to educate, especially if you have a little-known illness. That includes providing reliable information on the disease, as well as personal information that is specific to you.

What other tips do you have as a patient? Or, have you tried some of these to not much avail in the past?


One response to “Communicating with doctors

  1. Pingback: PFAM June 2013: Getting the Attention You Need | hidden courage

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