4 Ways to Be a Better Patient

By Jennifer Noble | Jan 08, 2018

We've all had experiences at the hospital or doctor’s office where we felt embarrassed to talk about specific symptoms or forgot important instructions for treatment. However, it doesn't have to be this way. Below find five helpful tips to make your doctor's office or hospital visit more successful.

1. Take Good Notes

Take a notebook with you before a visit, and write detailed notes. Include questions you think of while in the waiting room. Write down instructions, medication dosages and other relevant information conveyed by your doctor. This will aid you if you forget the doctor’s advice by the time you get home. It's also important to follow your progress while trying to get well, so it's a good idea to journal your experiences after your visit.

2. Bring Someone for Moral Support or Have a Health Care Advocate

If you anticipate your visit to be stressful, it can be calming to have a trusty friend or supportive loved one with you during your visit. “Many of us have friends who work in a medical institution, and they can help you understand the issue, the steps needed to remediate the situation, and determine if a specialist is needed. They can make calls and verify you are getting the best clinician available,” says Philip Freed, PA-C and principal consultant with CMEDDS. Simply inform the doctor you want this person included in your health discussions. “Many times you may be asked to complete a document that allows your physician to speak about your care with your friend or advocate and this is to protect your privacy,” says Freed. This person can also fill in gaps of missing information and even take notes for you to review later. They may remember your headache from last week that you had long forgotten. Or if your doctor tells you to take one pill in the morning and two at night, they can make notes, so you don’t forget. Knowing you have someone there on your side will give you peace of mind.

3. Don't Lie

Be open and honest. Recall that experience you had in the bathroom? Please tell your doctor, because if it's important enough to bother you, then it's important enough to let them know. Plus, they've heard it all. It won't do you any good to omit the fact that you smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol because this is vital information that may affect your health. They'll respect you for telling the truth because they know when patients are holding back. Besides, everything you tell a doctor is confidential. “This is your life and withholding information from your health care practitioner (HCP) can have a serious impact on the decision to diagnose and treat you,” warns Philip Freed. “Mistakes can happen if you're not disclosing medications you took or actions you did because of embarrassment or concerns on documentation.”

4. Be Proactive About Your Treatment

After you leave the hospital, it may be easy to go back to your regular routine and forget some of the instructions and advice given. To prevent this, use a journal, calendar or app to track day-to-day behaviors, feelings, symptoms, and experiences. Ask questions about drug side effects and keep track of them. Is your condition getting better or worse?

Visiting the hospital or doctors office can be a stressful experience. By keeping track of all your medications, taking good notes, relying on friends and family, being open and honest, and being proactive about your treatment, you'll be on the road to a better experience.


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