PATIENTS......Improving Doctor-Patient Communication...

From: Helen Dynda (
Tue Mar 6 12:42:41 2001

[] Improving Doctor-Patient Communication...for Patients


1. Obtain copies of all of your medical and hospital records. Update yearly. After you have read your records, write down a list of all questions or concerns you have with the records. Then sit down with your doctor, using the list, and go over the records together. This will enable you to get to the point and not waste the doctor's time. Make sure that the records reflect an accurate account of your medical history.

2. Use one pharmacy for all medications. This is very important because you now have a third party doing checks and balances of all medications you are taking. This reduces the likelihood of adverse reactions to different medications.

3. If you are seeing more than one physician at the same time, make sure that they are all informed as to what each one is doing to treat you. Don't assume that this will be done automatically, it probably won't be. Make sure that each doctor has access to the other doctor's records, even if you have to personally deliver them.

4. Make sure that the doctor takes the time to listen to what your concerns are. If the doctor seems preoccupied or disinterested in what you are telling him or her, or if the doctor hurries you in and out of the office, it is probably time to look for another doctor.

5. If you feel that the doctor is ignoring a particular complaint or symptom, go somewhere else for a second opinion. Make sure you get a written report from the second doctor, and make sure that your doctor gets a copy of it. This is of the greatest urgency, even if you have to pay for the visit out of pocket. If you can't afford it, find a doctor who will allow payments. Remember, it is your body, there are too many stories of denied care that have cost many lives already. Don't ever assume that the doctor knows more than you do about your body.

6. Finally, go to your local library and find the Revised Statutes for your state. Go to the index, and look up Patient Rights. There may be several statutes on this: there may be one concerning hospital care, another physician office care and still another regarding insurance companies or HMOs. Make a photo copy of these sections and study them at home. Know your rights as a patient. There is a good chance that there may be laws in your state to protect you from denial of care. If there is ever a confrontation regarding a serious issue, make sure that you have a copy of the specific law that you are using to get your point across. Do all of this before you have a problem, sometimes time is of the essence, and it is better to have this information and not need it than to need it and not have it.

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