Tips for Talking to Your Doctor
The following tips will help you get the most benefit from your visit:
- Tell your doctor what he or she needs to know and provide a health history; you are the expert on your health and symptoms.
- Bring a list of your medicines, including dosages, to your appointment; alert your doctor to any allergic reactions.
- Mention any nonprescription products you use, such as vitamins or herbal products, and any alternative services you receive, such as acupuncture.
- Bring test results, x-rays and medical records with you to give to your doctor.
- Discuss important personal information, even if you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about doing so.
- Prepare questions ahead of time; write them down and bring them toyour appointment.
- Ask questions; your doctor will assume you understand unless you say otherwise.
- Take notes as your doctor discusses your health with you.
- Ask your doctor to draw pictures to help you understand medical information.
- Bring a tape recorder to help you remember your discussion; ask your doctor prior to the visit to make sure taping is okay.
- Bring someone with you to help ask questions and to help you understand and remember
- Tell your doctor if you need more time; even if your doctor can't spend more time with you immediately, you might be able to get the information you need from a nurse or you might be able to call later.
Take Information Home
- Ask for written instructions to take home with you.
- Ask you doctor for any audiovisual materials or brochures that you can take home to assist you.
- If you have questions, call.
- If your symptom worsen or you have problems with medications, call.
- If your doctor does not call you with the results of tests, call.
- If your doctor prescribes additional tests, make appointments and get them done.
- If your doctor tells you to see a specialist, make an appointment.
For further information see www.ahrq.gov/consumer/quicktips/doctalk.htm
Adapted from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.