Improve Your Doctor Visits

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On March 4, 2014, Posted by , In Caregivers,General Information, By ,, , With Comments Off on Improve Your Doctor Visits

Afraid to ask questions of your loved one’s physicians? Try these tips to increase your self-confidence as a caregiver in the doctor’s office:

1. Nothing increases self-confidence more than knowledge and experience. If you are very familiar with your loved one’s symptoms, disease, medical condition, medications, any tests, procedures or surgeries she’s undergone and the nature of the medical encounters she’s had, you will feel more empowered.

  • The first step to getting familiar is to obtain copies of your loved one’s medical records from her doctor(s). This includes copies of test results and reports, MRIs, CT scans etc. Look them over. Place them in a health file.
  • Create a list of the patient’s current medications and their dosages, over-the-counter medications, herbs and supplements, and allergies to medications. You can put this list in your smart phone or simply on a piece of paper. Bring it with you to every doctor/medical office visit. You may think that your doctor has all of the patient’s information, especially from other physicians she’s seen, but in all likelihood she does not.
  • Create a simple health history of major medical events over her lifetime such as births, surgeries, procedures, major tests and current medical diagnoses. This allows you to see for yourself where she’s been, what she’s been through, what medical conditions or diseases she has and what medications/treatments she is currently taking or engaging in.

You need copies of the patient’s medical records so you are never in a position of having to lasso the information from physicians, medical institutions or pharmacies when she is in need.

2. Create a list of questions for your loved one’s doctor before the appointment. Together, list your top three medical concerns. If you both are prepared for the office visit, you’ll both feel less anxious and more able to ask questions. If you see the questions in front of you, you’ll be more apt to stick to the point and not get sidetracked.

3. Humanize the patient to the doctor. You want your doctor to see your loved one as a whole person, not just as a set of symptoms. Find common ground. Does her doctor have pets? Does your loved one? Does your loved one share common interests with the physician?

If the patient is seen by the doctor as a set of symptoms, it makes it difficult to expose herself further by asking questions and engaging in a discussion about her health, diagnosis or treatment plan. If she is unable to engage in a discussion, humanize her and yourself so the doctor can connect to you both personally.

4. Do a little research. If a medical professional has given your loved one a diagnosis and/or treatment plan, do some research on credible websites such as academic, government or professional medical society/academy. These end in .gov, .edu, and .org. 4

5. Don’t be afraid that you are taking up too much time with her doctor. This is your loved one’s time and it is her doctor’s responsibility to manage it. Many patients and their caregivers are fearful of using up too much time in the office visit and therefore resist asking important questions. This backfires for the patient, the caregiver and the doctor because studies show that the more informed a patient is about her diagnosis, treatment plan, medical condition, etc., the more she will adhere to what the doctor suggests. 5

6. Find a doctor who welcomes your and your loved one’s participation. Look for a physician who accepts and welcomes your questions. Good communication is essential for a successful relationship with a doctor. A successful relationship with a doctor is crucial for quality medical care. Good doctors are good communicators and good listeners.

These suggestions are all about taking charge of you as a patient or as a caregiver. If you implement even a few of these strategies, you will feel more comfortable asking questions of the physician and interacting in a collaborative fashion. Keep in mind that no one is more invested in your health than you or the patient. If you meet your loved one’s doctor half way, you’ll find that most doctors will greet your efforts with respect.



Contact Pure Home Care Services at (586) 293-2457 today! If you live in Grosse Pointe or the surrounding area, we can help you care for your loved ones.

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