Updated August 18, 2020
Doctors have a responsibility to provide their patients with the best possible care, but if you have waited days or weeks for an appointment only to be rushed or misheard during face-to-face time with your doctor, it may not feel that way.
Communication, on both your part and your doctor’s, is key to getting the medical care you need. On the other hand, a lack of communication can have a negative impact on your healthcare, leading to anything from a misdiagnosis to medical malpractice or negligence.
It’s in your best interest to make sure your voice is heard.
When it comes time to meet with your doctor, consider these tips to help you communicate about your health and advocate for yourself.
Do your homework by writing down your questions and concerns. Be specific when describing your symptoms: where they are located, how long they last, and what they feel like.
Additionally, bring any information that your doctor may need, such as your health insurance card and a list of all medications (both prescription and over-the-counter), vitamins, herbs, and supplements you take.
Appointment times tend to be short, and you may not have time to cover everything on your list. Bring up your concerns in the order of importance. Then, if you run out of time, make a follow-up appointment or communicate with your doctor electronically to go through the rest of your questions.
A friend or loved one can be a helpful resource. They can fight for you, ask questions, take notes, and keep you focused. Advocates are especially advantageous for older patients, who may have health issues such as dementia or chronic conditions.
You can’t have too many people on your side.
Medical jargon is complicated. If you are confused or uncertain if you understand everything, ask questions for clarification. Another trick is to reiterate and rephrase what your doctor said, saying it back to them so they can confirm whether your understanding is correct.
Sometimes, symptoms or personal habits can be embarrassing, or you may find them irrelevant. However, these little details can make a big difference when it comes to diagnosing a health condition. Your doctor needs the complete picture, so be honest.
You and your doctor may cover a lot of information during your appointment, so take detailed notes to help you remember important details. Bring a notebook to write in, a recorder to take audio, or a friend to help you.
When you leave the hospital or doctor’s office, you may want more information. Ask your doctor for pamphlets, websites, or other resources where you can find reliable and updated information about your health condition.
No matter how clearly you communicate with your healthcare provider, mistakes can still happen. If you or a loved one have been a victim of medical malpractice, contact an Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Attorney from Wilson Kehoe Winingham. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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