Here are some ideas for working with your health care team:
Ask about all your health problems when you see a doctor, but focus on your biggest needs or questions.
If you don't understand something your doctor says or does, ask about it.
Try to schedule doctor visits and tests on the same day and in the same part of town. This will help you save time and will be more convenient.
Ask your doctors or their staff how long visits will take, including time in the waiting room. Knowing what to expect can ease your feelings about the time you spend on your health care.
Ask your doctors if you can use email to ask questions and forward the answers to your other doctors. The answer you get from one doctor is important for other doctors to know. Be sure to ask about email security and the types of questions best asked in email.
Ask your doctors to share your test results with you and the other doctors. You don't want to have to do the same test twice or wait for days while one doctor asks for the results of a test from another doctor.
Get the right advice
Having more than one health problem can be confusing. You may have problems understanding what you're supposed to do for each health problem.
You may be told to use corticosteroid medicines for COPD, but also to avoid them because you have diabetes.
One doctor may want you to exercise a certain way, but another one may say you need to avoid exercise.
One doctor may suggest a surgery at one hospital, but you may want to use another hospital.
One doctor may order a CT scan, but you think you just had one last month for another doctor.
If you receive different directions from different doctors:
Say so right away. Ask the one doctor to call the other and talk about the best approach.
Contact your primary care doctor. Ask him or her to help you find what you need to do.
Remember that it's your team, and your wishes are important. For example, if a hospital close to you and one farther away have the same care, tell your team that distance matters when choosing a hospital.
Don't act until you are sure. For example, if you think you've just had a test, don't schedule another until you know whether you need it or already have had it.