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How to Help Your Doctor Help You

Taking good care of your young children involves well care visits to the doctor. There may also be occasional problem related visits.

Today, preventive medical care is the ideal. Your health care provider and you are jointly responsible for keeping your child healthy.

How do you get the most benefit from your health care provider? Research and tips from professionals show that good communication between provider and patients really help to get you the best possible care.

One of the best ways to communicate is through good records. During routine check ups and at other times, keep records containing immunizations, facts about surgeries or illnesses, medications, office visits. If you move or change doctors, these records help the new doctor to quickly get updated and to treat your child appropriately.

Remember:

  • When you make an appointment, say exactly why you want to see the doctor--for a consultation, immunization, illness or a check up. This helps the scheduler to allot the right amount of time.
  • Help your child to be more cooperative by preparing him for the doctor's visit.
  • Be prepared to discuss any concerns by bringing notes or a list of questions. Ask questions and get answers about things that may come up during the exam.
  • Learn how to describe symptoms or concerns by being specific. "Jane's not feeling well." is too vague. Be precise. It is more helpful to the doctor if you say. "She's had a temperature of 99.5 degrees for two days."
  • Speak up if you do not understand what the doctor says. Ask the doctor to use simple language and to write his instructions out.
  • Get a good understanding from the office about the best times to phone for advice when needed, how to handle emergencies, who covers on weekends or when the doctor is away, fee schedules and payment methods, insurance and how paperwork is handled.
  • Keep in mind that the doctor is trained to solve medical problems. By helping them to quickly and efficiently get an understanding of your child's needs, you strengthen the health care partnership that can keep your child healthy.

Sources: Frederic W. Platt, M.D.; Conversation Repair: Case Studies in Doctor - Patient Communication. Little, Brown & Co., 1995

Prepared by Geraldine G. Peeples, Extension Specialist.