Thursday, March 31, 2011

Relevant Information

Today, many physicians make themselves, an assistant or other staff member available to their patients over the phone. Pre-visit questions and routine follow-up on the phone can save you - and your doctor - both time and money. Before making a call, you need to certain relevant information in advance:

* When is the best time to call?
* What is the doctor's rule for returning calls?
* Whom should you speak with (e.g., assistant, nurse) if the doctor can't come to the phone?
* What is the phone number for making emergency calls or for calls when the office is closed?
* Whom can you call if your doctor is out of town?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Keep the following in mind

* Keep a pen and paper ready so that you can write down the relevant instructions.
* Make sure all your medical records are at hand, so that you can answer questions about your medical problem intelligently and accurately.
* Identify yourself properly, giving your full name as well as your diagnosis (try not to tax your doctor's memory!).
* Ask if you can take a few minutes of the doctor's time now, or whether you should call back again - this is common courtesy!
* Report specific symptoms. For example, rather than just saying, 'I don't feel well, or I've got the flu,' which can be interpreted in different ways, be prepared to describe your symptoms precisely; for instance, fever, sore throat, cough, and/or body ache. Similarly, instead of just saying, 'my baby has a fever' specify the exact temperature and the duration of the fever as well as other signs or symptoms.
* When you don't know what you need (for example, you may not be sure how serious the illness is, i.e., if you require a visit to the clinic), tell the staff you're uncertain and request that you speak to a nurse or the doctor's assistant over the phone. Don't be hesitant; if you're feeling concerned or anxious, let the clinic staff know.
* Don't insist on talking only to the doctor every time you call. For example, if you just need to make an appointment, or merely clarify a doubt, the nursing staff or receptionist may be able to help you. To put it differently: respect your doctor's time!
* Don't misuse the phone by trying to wangle a free consultation. Not only is this act unfair to the doctor, but also such a consultation is likely to be very unreliable!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Get advice over the phone

Often times, you can save yourself a long wait for the doctor at the clinic by getting timely advice on the telephone. Such a trend is becoming increasingly important today, when time is at a premium and commuting is so arduous, thanks to frequent traffic jams! You need to learn to make intelligent use of the phone to get appropriate help from the doctor. However, when you're sick or hurt, it becomes difficult to think clearly and the following routine may help you to help the doctor give you the care you need over the telephone.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Good Communication = Good Results

Most capable doctors will agree that they learn from their patients all the time, just as a good teacher learns from his students! A skillful doctor treats the patient as the captain of the ship and himself as the navigator, and a balance of respect between the doctor and the patient can foster a partnership in which both learn all the time! However, remember that playing an active role in your own health care places the responsibility for reliable communication with your doctor squarely on you!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Help from your Family

Even if a family member or a friend can't accompany you to the clinic, he or she can still help. For example, such a person can serve as your sounding board, helping you to practice what you want to say to the doctor before the visit. And, after the visit, talking with that person about what the doctor said can remind you about certain important points and help you come up with fresh questions to ask the next time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Your care taker

If a relative or a friend has been taking care of you at home, taking that person along when you visit the doctor could prove beneficial. In addition to the questions you have in mind, your caregiver may have certain concerns he or she could like to discuss with the doctor.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Taking a companion along

It would definitely be advantageous to take a family member or a friend with you while visiting the doctor's clinic. You will feel more confident if someone accompanies you. Also, a friend or relative can help you remember what you planned to tell or ask the doctor. He or she can also help you remember the doctor's advice. But don't let your companion play too prominent a role; after all, the communication is between you and your doctor. Also, you may want to spend some time alone with the doctor to discuss personal matters. Therefore, let your companion know in advance the extent to which he or she can be helpful.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Communication is the Key

Remember that communication between a doctor and a patient is a two-way process. Both the doctor and the patient must work together on activities such as listening as well as speaking to one another. Honesty and openness with each other are also important factors. The more honest you are, the better your doctor can help you. Much of the communication between the doctor and the patient is personal, as well as confidential. In order to obtain optimum results, you may need to be open about sensitive subjects such as sex, sexually transmitted diseases and death even if you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. Doctors are accustomed to talking about personal matters and will try to ease your discomfort to the maximum extent possible.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

You have communicated well with your Doc if

A clear understanding of what precisely your doctor has told you is crucial if you're going to work together as a team.

At the end of your visit, you should be able to:

1. Describe your condition fairly accurately.
2. Know what additional tests are needed and why.
3. Explain your treatment, including the use of medications.
4. State if and when you need to return.

If you can't fulfill the preceding objectives, you're not communicating properly with your doctor!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Your Questions

Even though most patients realize the need to ask their doctor certain important questions, many of them get tongue-tied when they actually come face to face with their doctor. Not only can they not think straight, but they also often forget what questions to ask! But remember that you will only get answers if you ask the right questions! Rudyard Kipling's five best friends - What? When? Why? Where? How? - should help guide you as to what to ask! A simple example would be asking: 'What is wrong with me? When did the disorder originate? Why? What can you do about it?'

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Few Suggestions

To sum up, the following suggestions will help you communicate effectively with your doctor:

1. Plan well ahead of time what you intend discussing with your doctor about your problem. Your own observations about your health problem can prove invaluable in helping the doctor make an accurate diagnosis. Carry written lists to make sure you don't forget any crucial aspects!
2. If you are confused by complex medical terms, ask for simple definitions. There is no need to be embarrassed; after all, your doctor does want you to understand what is happening to you! Remember that your doctor's objectives and yours are the same to help you to get better as soon as possible!
3. Repeat in your own words what you think the doctor meant and also ask: 'Is my version correct?' Such a clarification will ensure that you understand clearly what the doctor is saying and will also allow him to present the information to you again, if required, in a manner which you can comprehend.
4. Share your point of view with your doctor since he needs to know what's working and what's not. He or she obviously can't read your mind, so it is important for you to put across your thoughts and observations. If you feel rushed, worried, or uncomfortable, do convey your apprehensions to the doctor. Try to voice your feelings in a positive and courteous manner. For example: "I know you have many patients to see, but I'm really worried about my condition. I'd feel much better if we could talk about it a little more.' If necessary, you can offer to return for a second visit to discuss your concerns.
5. Take notes on what the doctor's analysis of your problem is and what you need to do to rectify the situation.
6. Discuss frankly with your doctor if any part of the visit has been annoying or dissatisfactory, such as a lengthy waiting time or discourteous staff. Your approach ought to be tactful, but honest.
7. Don't hesitate to voice your apprehensions about what you may have heard from well-meaning but ill-informed friends or relatives regarding your condition. The doctor may be able to dispel any misconceptions.
8. Discuss any self-medication practices you've used which have relieved symptoms.
9. Don't waste your doctor's time by asking irrelevant questions (for example, about your brother-in-law's medical problem). Such a digression is likely to upset the doctor! Also, try to do as much homework as possible, so that you can ask your doctor questions specific to your particular problem. After all, if you can find the answers to your questions from another source, say, a book or by asking the nurse or receptionist, you can save your doctor's precious time, something which he will deeply appreciate. You can, nevertheless, ask your doctor to confirm that the knowledge you have acquired is accurate!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Few relevant aspects

The following aspects need to be highlighted:

* Your medical history (including instances of surgery and hospitalization).
* Your family's medical history.
* Allergies you are prone to.
* Medications you have taken (and are still taking).
* Your daily routine.
* Your work schedule.
* Pressures you have been subject to (and are still subject to).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Your thinking of your problem

Remember to tell your doctor what you think the reason for your problem is! This 'revelation' can often provide the doctor with a useful clue. Ultimately, do not forget that you are the expert on yourself! You should also be able to provide relevant information about your health status, both past and present.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Common Gaffes

The common gaffes patients make include:

* Getting bogged down in irrelevant details.
* Not providing all the facts.
* Not furnishing the information in a chronological sequence.
* Jumbling up the details, so that they jump from one problem to another completely unrelated one.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Giving a clear medical history

It is a medical truism that if the doctor listens to the patient intelligently, he will be able to make the diagnosis correctly. However, just like learning to take in a good history is a skill the doctor needs to master, providing an intelligent history is a skill the patient needs to learn. Patients are often slipshod while recounting their medical history so that the doctor needs to methodically extract the facts from them: and this exercise can be a painful for both!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Categorize your problems systematically

If you remember to categorize all your problems systematically, not only can you make better use of your time with your doctor but you can also help him arrive at a correct diagnosis more quickly! You could rehearse the details you are going to provide to your doctor with a friend or a relative. You could also summarize them on a single sheet of paper, just to make sure you don't forget any vital aspect.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Important Details

In this context, a useful aide memoir includes the following details:

* Site: Location (e.g., pain is in the chest and then spreads to the left arm).
* Quantity: Bringing up a cupful of sputum when coughing.
* Quality: It feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest!
* Setting: I usually develop such aches after fighting with my wife.
* Aggravating factors: Stomachache becomes worse after eating.
* Alleviating factors: Breathlessness becomes better after resting.
* Associated Symptoms: Other related complaints.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Give a Clear Description

You need to be able to describe your problem as accurately as possible. For example, if your problem is a headache, you should be able to provide all the details! For instance: Where does it hurt? Has the pain spread elsewhere? How severe is the pain? What does the pain feel like? Is it a sharp, dull, or throbbing pain? When does it occur? What makes it better? What makes it worse? Have you noticed any other symptoms or signs recently, such as fever, shortness of breath or blood in the urine? When did the problem start? Has it changed since then? Have you felt like this before? If so, when? What made the pain better then? Is it affecting your daily activities such as sleeping or eating?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Medical History

The simple fact that in over 80 per cent of cases the diagnosis of the illness can be made purely on the basis of what the patient tells the doctor (what is called a medical history) should emphasize the importance of one's ability to talk intelligently to one's doctor! While the capability of absorbing the relevant details of an individual's medical history is one of the key skills of a competent physician, being able to provide a lucid history is a key skill on the part of a good patient.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Final Analysis

In the final analysis, remember that the most reliable test for a doctor's suitability for you is your own gut instinct - after all, if you don't feel comfortable with your doctor, you are not likely to be able to work well together in your health care partnership with him! On the other hand, if you have faith in his abilities and can trust him that he will do his best for you, you are likely to get excellent medical care!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

No Doctor is Right for everyone

There is no single who is Dr. Right for everyone, and you may need to hunt patiently and persistently for the doctor who is right for you, depending upon your temperament, personality, and perhaps age and sex. Different patients have different expectations- some need to be told what to do while others want all their questions answered. Obviously, they will need different types of doctors. Most people invest a lot of brain power and analytical skills deciding which shares or stocks to buy, but doing in - depth research for finding the right doctor is likely to pay much better dividends for you and your family!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Changing your Doctor

Changing doctors is never easy, because, over a period of time you do build up a personal relationship with your doctor. However, you should consider changing doctors if you strongly feel that:

* the doctor is incompetent (i.e. he has ignored obvious symptoms, missed a diagnosis, prescribed the wrong drug, or can't get to the bottom of your problem);
* the doctor does not communicate with you effectively ( i.e., his explanations are not in lay person's language or no time is given to you to ask questions and bring up related problems);
* the doctor does not pay attention to your needs and concern
* you have lost confidence in the doctor's skill and ability.
* you find the doctor is too inconsiderate ( i.e., he makes you wait a long time for an appointment, he fails to return your phone calls, he does not provide clinic time during evening or weekend hours ); and
* your doctor is too expensive.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Evaluate your Physician

In order to feel good about your medical care, you should feel good about your doctor, too. In this context, ask yourself the following questions in order to evaluate your physician:

* Does your doctor listen to you and answer all your questions about the causes and treatment of your medical problems, or is he vague, impatient or unwilling to answer them?
* Are you comfortable with your doctor? Can you openly discuss your inner most feelings and talk about intimate personal matters, including sexual and emotional problems?
* Does your doctor take a thorough history, asking for relevant factors about past physical and emotional problems, family medical history, medications you are taking and other matters affecting your health?
* Does your doctor address the root causes of your medical problems or does he merely prescribe medicine to treat the symptoms?
* Is your doctor well-groomed? A doctor who cannot be bothered to take care of how he looks may not look after you carefully either!
* Does your doctor smoke? (if yes, this should be a black mark against him!)
* Are you satisfied with the doctor's stand-in when he or she is unavailable?
* Do you feel at ease while asking your doctor questions that may sound "silly"?
* Does your doctor explain complex medical jargon in simple terms?
* Are the office staff members friendly? Do they listen to you patiently?
* Does your doctor answer your telephone calls promptly?
* Are you usually kept waiting for a long time even if you have fixed an appointment before hand?
* Does the doctor have hospital privileges at a respected medical institution?

If you are not satisfied with the answers to the proceeding questions, discuss your concerns with your doctor. Even after this discussion if you are still not satisfied, you should consider looking for another doctor.