JULY 2001- Contents
Travel & Adventure
the-south-asian.com July 2001
Page 2 of 2
Talking with Your Doctor
Dorothy Spurgiasz, CNS
Bellevue Hospital Center, Patients Family Education
Understanding what the doctor tells you is very important. Many people are reluctant to speak up when they don't understand what the doctor says. Medical words can be hard to understand. Your doctor may not know you feel confused, especially if you are quiet and a good listener. It is OK to ask the doctor to re-explain what he or she is saying; ask the doctor to use "plain English." Ask questions until you DO understand. As you and your doctor get to know each other, communicating should get easier.
Do you have trouble remembering your doctor’s instructions? Ask for written instructions if this will help. Or take your own notes. Bring an adult family member or trusted friend with you to the appointment to help you remember what is said. Ask for a booklet or written information about your condition that you can read when you get home. Nurses, pharmacists and dietitians are also good sources of information about common health problems. The more you learn about your condition, the more you will be able to keep your health problems under control and stay well.
Bring all your medicine bottles with you to your appointments and tell doctor about what medications you are taking, even over-the-counter drugs. Learn the names of your medicines and always tell the doctor if you think you are having a problem with any medications. It is also important to let the doctor know if you are taking any herbal medicines or herbal teas—sometimes taking herbs while using certain medications can be harmful.
What if you know you can’t or won’t be able to do what the doctor says? Because the doctor is an authority on the treatment of illnesses, some people nod, smile and act like they intend to follow their doctor’s instructions when they go home, even when they know they won’t. Sometimes people are not ready to make changes in their lives, like stopping smoking or cutting down on salt. Some people don’t go back for a follow up appointment because they feel the doctor will be upset with them or will not be able to help them. It is much better to be "up front" and tell your health care providers what you can or cannot do. Their goal is to help YOU achieve better health. When you share what you really are thinking, they can try to develop a treatment plan with you that will be able to follow and that can help you.
You, your doctor and your health care team can be partners in your care and work together to help you stay as healthy as possible. What you say, think, do and learn are important! So be an involved patient, for your health!
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