Sunday, July 25, 2010

Communication between you and your doctors

Did you know you can help your doctors improve the care they give you? It can be as simple as telling them everything you know about your health -- past and present.

The more you share, the better they can care!

Communication between you, your primary care doctor and all the specialists you see is vital to your health and well-being.
Through this team effort, your doctors can help make sure the care you get is the best kind for you.

At every visit, tell your doctors these things about your health:

* Health status.  How you feel and any symptoms you may be having.

* History. Updates to your medical and surgical history and your family's history.

* Medicine. All the medicine you take (prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins and herbal remedies). Remember to ask if each medication is safe to take with the others.

* Doctor's visits. Other doctors you have recently seen, their telephone numbers and the reason for each visit.

* Tests. Any tests you have had. Also mention who ordered the tests, where they were done and the results of each one.

* Hospital visits. Any urgent care, emergency room visits or hospital stays and the reason for the care.

Use these tips to get the most out of your doctor's visits:

* Ask questions! Make a list of questions before your visit to make sure you get all the answers you're looking for.

* Share your symptoms and discuss your diagnosis. (A diagnosis is any health condition your doctor identifies.) Providing this information can help you and your doctor make shared decisions about your care.

* Listen carefully to what your doctor is saying. Repeat back what your doctor tells you. This helps ensure you understand it. It also gives the doctor a chance to clear up any misunderstandings.

* Get any prescriptions you need (new or renewals). Ask what each medication is for and how and when to take each one. Learn what side effects to watch for and what to do if you experience one or more of them.

* Make all follow-up appointments to be sure all your health care needs are met. Start the communication process now!

Using this list, write down some things to tell and ask your doctor at your next visit. It can make a difference.

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