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Talking with your doctor

LPNI Health Topic – July 2017

Talking with your doctor
Today’s medical systems are getting more complex.  I frequently have members of my faith family visit my office or call me with questions or tell me they can’t remember what the doctor told them, or they aren’t clear on the directions given at the last doctor visit.  It is no longer one doctor for everything, and many times information is not automatically shared between the primary-care doctor and any specialists or emergency facilities or hospitals without a specific request by you to have records released.  More and more we are seeing how important it is to develop good communication skills to maximize the outcome of the brief time you have with your doctor.

Older patients who have a care-giver or family member with them at their appointments tend to retain more of the information from the appointment and are generally more satisfied with the outcome.  Being prepared will help the visit be more productive and have a better outcome.  As we age, it is important to have a provider who understands whole-health care – body, mind and spirit.

 Below are some tips that are helpful to follow when going to any doctor/health-care provider appointment:
Keep a complete and current list of medications and directions for taking them including who prescribed them, how long you have been taking them, and where you get them filled. Bring it with you!
Determine and write down the reason for the appointment.  Is it a well care visit or a follow-up of a previous problem?  List any questions such as: Do you need your diagnosis clarified?  Do you need help with the treatment plan you have been given?  Are you having problems with the medications?  Are you experiencing new symptoms?  Write down everything to ask or say since it may be difficult to remember what you need and want when you get to the office.
Be pro-active in making sure that all test results have been received by the doctor before your visit.
Have a list of your symptoms and description available.  Describe how you feel, degree of pain, what triggers the symptoms, what you have done to help reduce the problem, etc.
If you don’t understand or are having trouble hearing the doctor/health-care provider, ask for clarification or have them speak more clearly.
Have the doctor/health-care provider supply you with a written summary of the visit including diagnosis, tests needed, medications new or changed, follow-up information, etc.

An excellent resource for more information within the USA is the National Institute of Health and also the Alzheimer Association.  Both have publications that provide help as well as discussion tips for groups.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.
                                                   (1 Cor. 6:19-20 ESV)

Cynthia Rutan, RN, Parish Nurse Representative for NW District LCMS
 
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