No matter what your age, it may be hard to remember everything that happens during your doctor visit. Here are some tips to help you recall important information. Take notes. Check for understanding. Use patient education materials. Talk to other members of the health care team. And follow up. Note taking is important. Bring along a notepad and pencil and write down the main points or ask the doctor to write them down for you.
Alan Pocinki, M.D.: These are the changes we talked about making in your medications I'm going to write them all down, and then it's helpful for me too. Then the patient has a copy of that and I usually make a copy of that. Then the patient often comes back for the next visit and they've got their list from the previous visit that I gave them of what they were suppose to do.
Announcer: If you can't write while the doctor is talking to you make notes in the waiting room after the visit.
Male Patient: I always add notes to my list and before I leave the doctor's office I take a minute in the waiting room, review the questions and answers and the notes I've taken, and expand as I feel necessary.
Announcer: Next, check for understanding. During the visit it's important to make sure you have understood what the doctor says. After all, it's hard to remember something that you didn't fully comprehend.
Marie Bernard, M.D.: At the end of the visit you should make sure to say back to that doctor, "It is my understanding that I am to do x, y, and z," and make sure that the doctor agrees that that's what had occurred during that visit.
Alan Pocinki, M.D.: Restating things is probably one of the most helpful ways for the patient to say okay, let me make sure I've understood this correctly. What you've just told me is that I should do this, this, and this, you know in the morning, but I shouldn't do this until the afternoon, and I should only be doing this three days a week.
Announcer: Use patient education materials. Ask if your doctor has any brochures, DVDs, CDs, or can refer you to any websites that provide information about your health conditions or treatments.
Alan Pocinki, M.D.: Often it's very helpful to give a patient a pamphlet or a booklet. It's another place where the Internet can be very helpful, and say okay here is a very helpful website that, when you have some time and you're feeling rested, you can sit down and look at this and read through some of this stuff.
Announcer: Consider speaking with other members of the health care team. Sometimes the doctor may want you to talk with other health professionals such as, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, and occupational or physical therapists who may be able to take more time with you then the doctor. Finally, feel free to follow up. If you are uncertain about the doctor's instructions after you get home, call the office.
Marie Bernard, M.D.: If you forgot to ask an important question during your doctor's visit, and you realize that after you've left, I'd recommend that you call the doctor's office and leave a message as to what your question is. Often times it will go to the nurse the nurse will respond to you. Sometimes it is effective to simply write a note and send that to the doctor's office. But it's important for you to get the information that you need, and you should follow up.
Announcer: And if you need to leave a message, make sure to provide detailed information.
Alan Pocinki, M.D.: If it's a prescription question, that they provide their phone number, their pharmacy that they need a prescription call to, and you know in the modern era, leave more than one phone number for them to be called back at. If they are going to be in and out in the course of day, leave a cell phone number as well as a home phone number so that the doctor isn't playing phone tag trying to catch up with them.