Take Say Ah!’s Tips with You! Say Ah!’s Tips for Talking with Your Doctor™ and Medication List™ are now free to download in English, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, and Spanish. Click on the language you want and use the Tips and Medication List to get better, safer health care!
Here are more tips to help you talk with your doctor, and get care the works for you.
Get comfortable. This will set a positive tone and help you feel at ease. If you want to talk to your doctor before you remove your clothes, then keep them on. Ask for what you need (pillow for your head, larger gown, etc.), and make sure can see or hear well.
Set the Agenda. At the start of the visit, tell your doctor why you are there and what you want to discuss. This might be different than what your doctor wants to talk about. Stay the course to get the care you want and your questions answered. “It’s your visit.
Talking with Your Doctor: You should be able to speak openly and honestly with your doctor, and be able to work with her to manage your health and health care needs. You will need to be able to discuss incredibly personal things beyond your health, like your ability to pay for care and your beliefs and values. If you do not feel you can do this, find a new doctor!
Give Good Information. Your doctor needs a lot of information from you to do her job well. Give her the lists you’ve made (medications, health record, family history, a list of all your doctors and their contact info, lab reports, and so on), and correct wrong information.
- Be Honest: Your doctor needs as accurate information as possible to diagnose and treat you. Go out of your way to be honest, because studies show we often lie without even meaning to. Call your doctor if you forgot a fact during the visit or to correct the record.
- Tell Your Story: Describe what is wrong, when you started feeling that way, and what else is impacting your health (example: “My back started to hurt after I slipped and fell on the ice two days ago.”) Avoid self-diagnosis.
Get Information You Understand: Once you leave the doctor’s office, you will be back in charge of your own health. Before the visit ends, make sure you understand everything you need to know to care for yourself. To do this:
- Take notes or bring someone with you who can. You can also record your visit.
- Ask questions, and speak up when you don’t understand a word or concept or any math such as “10%.”
- You can help your doctor communicate more effectively with you by asking her to:
- Speak in “normal,” everyday language
- Be specific (example, if told to ice a sore foot, ask how often)
- Explain any words, concepts, or math you don’t understand
- Use visual aids
Understand ALL Instructions Before You Leave. Check you understand what the doctor has told you, such as how to clean a wound, or take a medicine, or making an appointment with a specialist, by asking:
- “Let me make sure I have this right,” then repeat back the instructions or information in your own words
- “What are the most important things I should remember?”
Bonus Tip: Take your time to make decisions about treatments.