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By Frank M. Jordan
Read an important Health Treatment Notice about personal health issues.
Talking to Your Doctor - Questions to Ask and Other Suggestions
The key to successful healthcare is for you, the patient, to take an active and informed role in your health care. You and your doctor must work together to achieve your return to and maintenance of good health.
Communication in a direct and non-confrontational manner is essential. Following are some questions suggested to ask your doctor or health professional to make informed decisions and to stay apprised of your status:
About My Disease or Disorder...
· What is my diagnosis?
· What caused my condition?
· Can my condition be treated?
· How will this condition affect me physically now? In the future?
· Should I watch for any particular symptoms and notify you if they occur?
· Should I make any lifestyle changes, including diet, exercise, rest or stress reduction?
About My Treatment...
· What is the preferred treatment for my condition?
· When will the treatment start, and how long will it last?
· What are the estimated cost and will insurance cover same?
· What are the benefits of this treatment, and how successful has it been for others?
· What are the risks and side effects associated with this treatment, including any drug regimen?
· Are there foods, drugs, or activities I should avoid while I'm on this treatment?
· If my treatment includes taking a medication, what are the potential risk and what should I do if I miss a dose?
· Are other treatments available – allopathic or alternative?
· Are there any vitamins or supplements beneficial in the treatment?
About My Test...
· What kinds of tests will I have?
· What do you expect to find out from these tests?
· When will I know the results?
· Do I have to do anything special to prepare for any of the tests?
· Do these tests have any side effects or risks?
· Will I need more tests later?
· Who will explain test results to me and will I get a written guide to abbreviations and normal values for test items?
· If you don't understand your doctor's responses, ask questions until you do understand.
· Take your doctor a current list of all medications being taken and all taken in the previous year.
· Prepare a written history of family illnesses.
· Take notes, or get a friend or family member to take notes for you. Or, bring a tape-recorder to assist in your recollection of the discussion.
· Ask your doctor to write down his or her instructions to you in legible form.
· Ask your doctor for printed material about your condition.
· If you still have trouble understanding your doctor's answers, ask where you can go for more information.
· Other members of your health care team, such as nurses and pharmacists, can be good sources of information. Talk to them, too.
· Notify your health care provider immediately if any negative responses occur to treatment or medications – particularly drug side effects.
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