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Better Communication

Improving Communication with Your Doctor
Before any visit to the doctor, you need to 'prepare'. A well-organized patient not only makes efficient use of the doctor's time but he/she is more likely to get better medical care, as he/she is providing the doctor with information that is helpful in making an accurate diagnosis.

Download a complete list of questions to ask your doctor

Information to share with your doctor during a visit:

  • Your medical history (including instances of surgery and hospitalization). 
  • Your family's medical history. 
  • Allergies you are prone to. 
  • Medications you have taken or are still taking (including homeopathic medicine). 
  • Your daily routine. 
  • Your work schedule. 
  • Pressures you have been subject to (and are still subject to).

The following suggestions will help you communicate effectively with your doctor:

1. Plan well ahead of time what you intend discussing with your doctor about your problem. Your own observations about your health problem are valuable in helping the doctor make an accurate diagnosis. Jot down notes on your condition and bring them with you to the doctor's visit.

2. If you are confused by complex medical terms, ask for a simple explanation. There is no need to be embarrassed; after all, your doctor wants you to understand.

3. Repeat in your own words what you think the doctor meant and also ask: 'Is my version correct?' This is to ensure that you understand your condition and treatment.

4. Share your point of view with your doctor since he/she needs to know what's working and what's not.

5. Take notes while your doctor is talking so you don't forget anything.

6. Tell your doctor if any part of the visit has been dissatisfactory, such as a lengthy waiting time or discourteous staff.

7. Discuss any self-medication practices you've used which have relieved symptoms.

8. Take a family member or a friend with you to the visit. A friend can help you remember what you planned to tell or ask the doctor. Plus he or she can also help you remember the doctor's advice.

At the end of your visit, you should be able to: 

  • Describe your condition fairly accurately. 
  • Know what additional tests are needed and why. 
  • Explain your treatment, including the use of medications. 
  • State if and when you need to return.

Short list of questions to ask your doctor during a visit:
1. What is the test for?
2. When will I get the results?
3. Why do I need this surgery?
4. Are there any alternatives to surgery?
5. What are the possible complications?
6. How do you spell the name of that drug?
7. Are there any side effects?
8. Will this medicine interact with medicines that I'm already taking?