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Tips for Talking to Your Doctor

The following tips will help you get the most benefit from your visit:

Give Information

  • 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.

Get Information:

  • 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 
    the answers.
  • 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.

Follow Up

  • 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.

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