Doctors often spend only a few minutes with each patient they see for routine exams. However, there is often time out of the exam room that is spent reviewing the chart and records. The experience can be both confusing and frustrating when communication on one or both sides is lacking, particularly if you're presented with new information to process or new instructions to follow.
While a visit to the clinic can be intimidating for anyone, you can lessen the stress and worry associated with doctor's appointments by taking steps to be sure that you're provided with all the information you need at the appointment. There are also ways you can improve the quality of your care by helping the doctor develop the best understanding possible of your symptoms and condition.
It was the summer of 2002 when the news about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) shook us to the core.
In what felt like a bomb dropped on all womankind, the U.S. federal government halted the hormone trial of the Women's Health Initiative early – a study designed to evaluate the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy on disease prevention.
The reason: Not only had HRT failed to be the protective fountain of youth doctors and women had long since believed, evidence was mounting that...
Before the appointment, write down a list of things you need to tell the doctor. Note any concerns or questions you may have. Also write down the names and dosages of any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications or supplements you are taking. It is very important to take this list with you to the appointment -- don't assume you'll remember every single item. Before you leave the office, go over the list to be sure you've covered everything. This simple step benefits both you and your doctor by keeping the discussion focused and ensuring that all concerns are addressed.
Don't hesitate to use the words "I don't understand." Doctors are only human and may not always know when they haven't explained something well or in terms you can understand. Never feel embarrassed or shy about asking for clarification about something the doctor says. When in doubt, repeat back what she has told you and ask if you've got it right. You can also ask if she recommends any specific reading materials about your condition.
If your doctor asks questions that sound embarrassing or overly personal, remember that the information you provide enables her to better establish a diagnosis, or to determine which treatment is most appropriate for you. Never fib in response to questions about alcohol or drug use, sexual history, or other lifestyle matters. Be honest about the extent to which you are taking your prescriptions or following a treatment plan. Withholding the truth can affect the quality of your care and can even lead to a wrong diagnosis.