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.
- 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
- 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