Studies show that we get less than 10 minutes of face-to-face time with our doctor during an appointment, and doctors interrupt their patients 23 seconds after asking, “So, what brings you here today?” So here are tips that’ll help you get the medical care you need, courtesy of Rodale Publishing. For example:
- Bring a list of the issues you want to discuss and let your doctor know about your list at the beginning of the appointment. It’s also a good idea to ask your most important question first. Often, out of embarrassment, people won’t ask the question they really need the answer to.
- If you’re seeing a new doctor, bring a list of all medications you’re taking, and a detailed family medical history. If the doctor doesn’t have to spend time asking you about those topics, they’ll have more time to answer your questions.
- What if your doctor speaks in confusing medical jargon? According to one study, almost 80% of patients don’t fully understand their doctor’s instructions! So what should you do? Be blunt and say “You’re using a lot of words I don’t understand” or “I’m not getting the reason behind your recommendation.” You should also write down any instructions your doctor gives you, and read them back to him to make sure your notes are correct. Even better – tape record your doctor! A lot of people forget the instructions given right after the doctor leaves the exam room.
- Another problem you may have with your doctor: They dismiss your concerns. The solution? Explain WHY you’re concerned about a problem. For example, maybe your grandmother died of a brain tumor, and you’re afraid that your migraines might mean you have one, too. If your doctor still thinks your migraines aren’t a big deal – and you’re still worried – get a second opinion.
- One more problem you may have with your doctor: They’re impossible to reach between visits. The fix: Ask your doctor if you can e-mail them between appointments. About 39% of physicians communicate with their patients via e-mail. Also, ask if you can call your doctor if you have a question. Or if it’s ok to contact them through Facebook.