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Tips for Talking to Your Doctor

Today, patients must take an active role in their health care.
You and your doctor will work in partnership to achieve your best possible level of health. An important part of this relationship is good communication.

Because your doctor sees a lot of patients in any given day, in order for him/her to be most attentive, you must get the preliminary information in his hand to make the most of his time.   The important ones are these;

1.  BEFORE you go, take the time to write down all of your medications and the frequency and dosage your are taking them.

2.  Next, on the same page, write down why you are visiting him, including your symptoms, how long you have been experiencing those symptoms and any other problems that could be associated with them.

3.  Finally, include any additional questions you may have so you don't forget to cover them before you leave.  Present the Doctor or Nurse with a copy of this list so you can discuss them and take notes as they are covered. 

As he discusses his diagnosis with you, be sure you ask questions and take notes, if possible.  Another good idea would be to have someone go with you so they can help you recall what was discussed.  Sometimes even the simplest of questions can be missed.  Of course this depends upon the seriousness of your visit.

Here are a few more tips:

If you don't understand your doctor's responses, ask questions until you do understand.
Take notes, or get a friend or family member to take notes for you. Or, bring a tape-recorder to assist in your recollection of  the discussion.
Ask your doctor to write down his or her instructions to you.
Ask your doctor for printed material about your condition.
If you still have trouble understanding your doctor's answers, ask where you can go for more information.
Other members of your health care team, such as nurses and pharmacists, can be good sources of information. Talk to them, too.

Once this is done, you should be aware of the following;

What is my diagnosis?
What caused my condition?
Can my condition be treated?
How will this condition affect my vision now and in the future?
Should I watch for any particular symptoms and notify you if they occur?
Should I make any lifestyle changes?

What is the treatment for my condition?
When will the treatment start, and how long will it last?
What are the benefits of this treatment, and how successful is it?
What are the risks and side effects associated with this treatment?
Are there foods, drugs, or activities I should avoid while I'm on this treatment?
If my treatment includes taking a medication, what should I do if I miss a dose?
Are other treatments available?

What kinds of tests will I have?
What do you expect to find out from these tests?
When will I know the results?
Do I have to do anything special to prepare for any of the tests?
Do these tests have any side effects or risks?
Will I need more tests later?

Understanding your doctor's responses is essential to good communication. 


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