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Hey, Doc, Can We Talk?

Communication is especially important when it comes to your health care and your doctors’ appointments. Your physician must understand your symptoms, and you need to understand his or her diagnosis and the treatment options.

Because a physician’s time with his or her patients is limited, it is critical to develop an open line of truthful communication.

“The physician and the patient both have goals in mind for each visit, so it’s important that both of your goals are met during the time allotted for your visit,” says Matthew Glick, D.O., family medicine physician on the medical staff at Presbyterian Hospital of Kaufman.
“It’s important for the patient to be prepared with specific questions for the doctor, just as the physician should take steps to ensure that he or she is explaining things in a way the patient can understand.”

To get the most out of your visit, try these tips:

• Arrive on time for your appointment so you’re not rushed.

• Clearly explain your problem and symptoms and be direct, because the physician must know all the information to make the best diagnosis.

• Listen to what the doctor says and repeat it back to ensure you understand. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or take notes.

• Bring someone else to the appointment with you to make sure you get all of your questions answered and to have “another pair of ears” while the doctor is explaining.

“If you feel like you are not understanding what the physician is saying — or if the physician isn’t understanding you — then you haven’t made the most of your visit,” says Dr. Glick. “Good communication can have a dramatic implication on your health.”

Source: American Medical Association (Summer 2008)

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