Talking with Your Doctor
Planning Your Doctor Visit
How well you and your doctor talk to each other is one of the most important parts of getting good health care. Unfortunately, talking with your doctor isn't always easy. In the past, the doctor typically took the lead and the patient followed. Today, a good patient-doctor relationship is a partnership. You and your doctor can work as a team.
Creating a basic plan before you go to the doctor can help you make the most of your visit. The tips in this chapter will make it easier for you and your doctor to cover everything you need to talk about.
Planning Your Doctor Visit - Listing Your Symptoms
Talking about your health means sharing information about how you feel. Sometimes it can be hard to remember everything that is bothering you during your doctor visit. Making a list of your symptoms before your visit will help you not forget to tell the doctor anything.
Symptoms can be physical, such as pain, fever, a lump or bump, unexplained weight gain or loss, change in energy level, or having a hard time sleeping. Symptoms can also involve your thoughts and your feelings. For example, you would want to tell your doctor if you are often confused, or if you feel sad a lot.
When you list your symptoms, be specific. Your list should include:
- what the symptom is
- when it started
- what time of day it happens and how long it lasts
- how often it happens
- anything that makes it worse or better
- anything it prevents you from doing.
Being honest about what is bothering you does not mean you are complaining. The doctor needs to know how you feel to help figure out your health problem. A physical exam and medical tests provide important information, but it is your symptoms that point the doctor in the right direction.
1. Symptoms can
A. be physical.
B. involve your thoughts.
C. involve your feelings.
D. all of the above
D is the correct answer. Symptoms are not just physical. They can also involve your thoughts and your feelings.
2. I should make a list of my symptoms
A. before my doctor visit.
B. during my doctor visit.
C. after my doctor visit.
A is the correct answer. Making a list before your visit will help you remember to tell your doctor everything. Sometimes it can be hard to remember all your symptoms during a doctor visit.
3. When you list your symptoms, it is important to
A. list only a few symptoms.
B. give only a general description.
C. be detailed.
C is the correct answer. Your list of symptoms should be detailed and include what they are and how often they occur. Your list should include all your symptoms even those you may think are not important.
4. Sharing your symptoms with your doctor will
A. help your doctor.
B. bother your doctor.
C. confuse your doctor.
A is the correct answer. Sharing your symptoms will help your doctor figure out what your health problem is.
Planning Your Doctor Visit - Listing Your Medications
Your doctor needs to know about ALL the medications you take. Medications include prescription drugs, over-the-counter (non-prescription) drugs, vitamins, herbal remedies or supplements, laxatives, and eye drops.
Sometimes doctors may ask you to bring all your medications in a bag to your visit. Other doctors suggest making a list of all your medications to bring to your visit.
If you do make a list of the medications you take, do not forget to write down how much you take and how often you take it. Make sure to tell the doctor if a dose has changed or if you are taking a new medicine since your last visit.
Write down or bring all your medications even if you think that one or some of them are not important. The doctor needs to know everything you take because sometimes medicines cause problems when taken together. Also, sometimes a medicine you take for one health problem, like a headache, can cause another health problem to get worse.
Write down any medication allergies you have and any bad side effects you have had with the medicines you take. Also, write down which medications work best for you.
Bring your insurance cards, names and phone numbers of your other doctors, and the phone number of the pharmacy you use. Also, bring your medical records if your doctor does not have them.
1. Your doctor needs to know
A. some of the medications you take.
B. all of the medications you take.
C. most of the medications you take.
B is the correct answer. It is important for your doctor to know all the medications you take, even those you only take sometimes. Some medicines should not be taken together and can even make a health problem worse. Therefore, you have to tell your doctor everything you take so that he or she can be as helpful as possible.
2. Medications include
A. over-the-counter (non-prescription) drugs.
B. vitamins and herbal supplements.
C. prescription drugs.
D. all of the above
D is the correct answer. Medications are more than just prescription drugs. They include medicine that you can get without a prescription, vitamins, herbal supplements or remedies, eye drops, and laxatives.
3. Medicines that I only take sometimes
A. need to be on my list.
B. do not need to be on my list.
C. need to be on my list in some cases.
A is the correct answer. Medicines that you take as needed but maybe not everyday still should be on your list. It is important that your doctor know about these medicines, even though you do not take them regularly. Your doctor also needs to know if you have stopped or started taking a medicine.
4. If I am having a bad reaction to a medicine, I should
A. not complain to my doctor.
B. tell my doctor.
C. wait for it to go away.
B is the correct answer. Tell your doctor if you are having a bad reaction to a medicine. Don't wait for it to go away or think that if you tell your doctor you are complaining too much. Your doctor also needs to know if you are allergic to any medicines so that he or she does not prescribe them for you.
Planning Your Doctor Visit - Habits and Life Changes
To provide the best care, your doctor must understand you as a person and know what your life is like.
Be sure to let your doctor know if you use any assistive devices to help you in your daily activities. Assistive devices can help you see, hear, stand, reach, balance, grasp items, go up or down stairs, and move around. Devices used by older adults may include canes, walkers, scooters, hearing aids, reachers, grab bars, and stair lifts.
Be prepared to tell your doctor about where you live, if you drive or how you get around, what you eat, how you sleep, what you do each day, what activities you enjoy, what your sex life is like, and if you smoke or drink alcohol.
Be open and honest. It will help your doctor to better understand your medical conditions and figure out the best treatment choices for you.
Sometimes things happen in life that are sad or stressful. Your doctor needs to know about any life changes that have occurred since your last visit because they can affect your health. Examples of life changes are divorce, death of a loved one, or changing where you live.
Your list should include all your life changes but does not need to go into detail. It can be short like "had to sell home and move in with daughter."
Also, write down and tell your doctor if you had to go to the emergency room, stay in the hospital or see a different doctor, such as a specialist, since your last visit. It may be helpful to bring that doctor's contact information.
1. Your doctor needs to know about life changes that may have made you sad or stressed.
TRUE is the correct answer. It is important to tell your doctor about life changes that may have made you sad or stressed because they can affect your health.
2. Examples of life changes are divorce and death of a loved one.
TRUE is the correct answer.
Divorce and death of a loved one are examples of life changes. Other examples of life changes are changing where you live or having an ill loved one.
3. Your doctor only needs to know about your health symptoms, not your habits.
FALSE is the correct answer. Being open and honest with your doctor about your health symptoms AND your health habits will help him or her better understand your health.
4. Your doctor needs to know if you have had to stay in the hospital since your last visit.
TRUE is the correct answer. Updating your doctor about your life includes telling him or her about a stay in the hospital, an emergency room visit, or seeing a new doctor.
Your Visit to the Doctor
As you get older, it becomes even more important to talk often and comfortably with your doctor. One reason is you may have more health problems and treatments to discuss. Its also because your health can have a big impact on other parts of your life, and that needs to be talked about too. The tips in this chapter will help you make the most of your doctor visit.
Your Visit to the Doctor - What to Bring
There are many things that you can bring to your doctor visit to help you and your doctor make the most of your time together. The things that make talking with your doctor easier include
- your visit plan
- glasses and/or hearing aids, if you use them
- a family member or friend
- an interpreter, if you need one.
Bring your visit plan.
In chapter one you learned how to make a plan before you go to see the doctor. It is important that you bring this plan to your doctor visit. The plan includes a complete list of your
- medications (your doctor may ask you to bring these with you to your visit)
- habits and life changes.
Bring glasses and/or hearing aids, if you use them.
It is important to be able to see and hear as well as possible during your doctor visit. If you use glasses or need aids for hearing, bring them with you to the doctor's office. Also, let the doctor and staff know if you have a hard time seeing or hearing.
Bring a family member or friend.
Sometimes it is helpful to bring a family member or close friend with you to your doctor visit. During your visit, this person can remind you about what you want to talk about, take notes, and help you remember what your doctor says. If you bring a family member or friend, you can still have time alone with your doctor to talk about personal matters.
If a relative or friend helps with your care at home, bringing that person along when you visit the doctor may be useful. Your caregiver may have questions for your doctor about your care or want to know where to find sources of information and support.
Bring an interpreter, if you know you'll need one.
If your doctor does not speak your language, you may want to bring an interpreter with you. Sometimes community groups or your doctor's office can help you find an interpreter. You can also ask a trusted friend or family member to be your interpreter.
Let your doctor, interpreter or the doctor's staff know if you do not understand what your doctor tells you during your visit. Do not let language barriers stop you from asking questions or talking about your concerns.
1. As I get older, I can talk with my doctor less often.
FALSE is the correct answer. Talking often and comfortably with your doctor is even more important as you get older. One reason is that you may have more health problems that affect your daily living.
2. If I use glasses and/or hearing aids, I should bring them to my doctor visit.
TRUE is the correct answer. Wear glasses or use a hearing aid if you need them during your doctor visit. It is important that you see and hear as well as possible.
3. If I bring a friend or family member to my doctor visit, I cannot have time alone with my doctor.
FALSE is the correct answer. If you bring a family member or friend to a doctor visit, you can still have time alone with your doctor to talk about personal matters. For example, at the end of your visit you can ask your family member or friend to go to the waiting room so that you can talk alone with your doctor.
4. An interpreter can be helpful if my doctor does not speak my language.
TRUE is the correct answer. You may decide to bring an interpreter to a doctor visit if your doctor speaks a different language. If you do not know anyone who can be your interpreter, your doctor's office may be able to help you find someone.
Your Visit to the Doctor - Best Use of Your Time
You may have a lot that you would like to talk about with your doctor. For example, you may want to talk about a new health problem, a medicine that prevents you from doing a favorite activity, and some health information you read in the newspaper. In this section you will learn tips to make the best use of your time during your doctor visit.
Rank your list of concerns and questions by importance.
Talk about the three or four most important concerns or questions first. If you put off talking about the items that are bothering you most, you may run out of time to talk about them during the visit. Afterwards, if you have time, you can talk about the other things on your list.
Use your visit plan to stick to the point.
Your doctor may not have a lot of time to talk with you. Therefore, it is important for you to stay focused on what you planned to talk about. For example, give a brief summary of what is bothering you most, when the symptom started, how often it happens, and if it is getting worse or better.
Be honest with your doctor.
You may want to say what you think your doctor wants to hear, like you are smoking less or eating healthier foods. It is important to tell your doctor the truth, even if it is embarrassing. Your doctor can best help you only when he or she knows what is really going on.
Also, be honest with your doctor about how you feel about your visit. Tell your doctor if you feel rushed, worried that you didn't have enough time, or uncomfortable with your visit. You can offer to come back for a second visit to talk more about your health concerns.
Remember, your doctor may not be able to answer all of your questions.
Most doctors will tell you when they do not have answers. They may be able to help you find the information you need or refer you to another doctor, a specialist, who can answer your questions.
1. During my doctor visit, I should first talk about
A. the health problems that bother me least.
B. the health problems that bother me most.
C. what I heard on the news about a rare disease.
B is the correct answer. You may have only a few minutes to discuss your health with your doctor, so talk about your three or four most important health concerns or questions first so you do not run out of time. If you have some time afterwards, you can talk about health problems that bother you less or ask about something you heard on the news.
2. During my visit, it is important for me to tell the doctor
A. what I think he or she wants to hear.
B. as little as possible about my health problem.
C. the truth about my health habits.
C is the correct answer. Be truthful with your doctor about your health habits. It may be embarrassing to tell your doctor that you have unhealthy habits (like if you are not taking your medicine), but your doctor can be most helpful only when he or she knows the truth.
3. If I feel rushed or uncomfortable during my doctor visit, I should
A. be honest with my doctor about how I feel.
B. not tell my doctor.
C. ignore my feelings.
A is the correct answer. Share with your doctor how you feel about your visit. It is important to understand that your doctor has many patients and may not be able to spend as much time with you as he or she would like. You can offer to come back for a second visit to talk more about your health.
4. If my doctor does not have an answer to my health question, he or she may
A. refer me to another doctor, known as a specialist.
B. help me find the information.
C. both of the above
C is the correct answer. Your doctor may not be able to answer all of your health questions. Instead, your doctor can help direct you to where to find the answers.
Your Visit to the Doctor - Discussing Sensitive Topics
It is important for you to discuss sensitive topics with your doctor because they can affect your health. Sensitive health issues, like sexual problems or memory loss, concern many older people, but they are not just normal parts of aging. You may find some of these topics embarrassing, but remember, your doctor is used to talking about personal matters.
Anyone at any age can have a drinking problem. As the body ages, alcohol can have a greater effect. Someone whose drinking habits have not changed may find over time that he or she has a problem. Also, people should not drink when taking certain medications.
Tell your doctor if
- alcohol is affecting you differently
- you are drinking more than usual
- you feel like you want to drink alcohol earlier and earlier in the day
- it is hard to stop after one or two drink
- you use alcohol to help cope with sadness.
Falling or fear of falling
A fall can cause injury and short- or long-term loss of independence. It is normal to fear falling, but you do not want to let your fear affect your daily activities. You can talk to your doctor about things you can do to lessen your chances of falling, such as exercises to improve balance and strength.
Driving is an important part of everyday life for many people. Deciding to stop driving can be hard. Tell your doctor if you or people close to you are worried about your driving and why. Your doctor can see if there are health problems that may be affecting your driving. Vision and memory tests are important. Your doctor may also know of a driver's education refresher class for older drivers.
Grief, mourning, and depression
As people grow older, they may lose friends and family to death or illness. Also, sometimes older adults have to move away from home or cannot do a favorite activity anymore. Talking to your doctor about these types of events can help him or her suggest things to help you cope with the losses.
It is normal to feel sad and mourn when you have a loss. However, tell your doctor if you feel sad all the time or for more than a few weeks. Also, tell your doctor if you have less energy, are not hungry, have trouble sleeping, or have little interest in life. These could be signs of depression, a health problem that your doctor can help you with.
Most doctors understand that sexuality remains important in later life. If you are not happy with your sex life, do not just assume it is due to your age. Talk to your doctor about this issue. You can also ask your doctor about how a health problem, medication, or surgery may change your sexual function.
Sexually transmitted diseases
Practicing safe sex is important at any age. The death of a spouse, divorce, or separation can lead some older people to date again and possibly have sex with a new partner. Your doctor can discuss with you how safe sex can reduce your risk of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
Older people sometimes have problems making it to the bathroom. Problems controlling your bladder or bowel are called incontinence and it can often be treated. Your doctor may suggest exercises, ways to change your bathroom habits, medications, or surgery to help with this problem.
Many older adults worry about not being able to think and remember as well as they did when they were younger. For most older adults, these abilities do not change too much with age. Let your doctor know if you have been confused or have problems remembering recent events. Be specific about the changes you have noticed. This will help your doctor find the cause for these problems.
Problems with family
Even strong and loving families can have problems because of stress caused by illness. It can be painful to talk about family problems, but if your doctor knows about them, he or she may be able to help you and your family.
Talk to your doctor if you think you are being mistreated or neglected by a family member or caregiver. Abuse can be physical, verbal, mental, or even financial. Your doctor can help you get help if you are being mistreated.
Feeling unhappy with your doctor
Sometimes people become unhappy with their doctor. You may feel upset by something your doctor or the doctor's staff has said or done. Do not avoid your doctor. Be honest with him or her about your feelings so that you both can work out the problem.
1. Sensitive health issues like falling and sexual problems
A. concern many older adults, but are not a normal part of aging.
B. concern few older adults and are a normal part of aging.
C. concern many older adults and are a normal part of aging.
A is the correct answer. Sensitive health issues like falling and sexual problems are not just a normal part of aging. Many older adults have concerns about these and other personal health issues. You should talk to your doctor about them so that he or she can help you.
2. I may have an alcohol problem if
A. it is hard to stop after one or two drinks.
B. I want to drink earlier in the day and more often.
C. I am drinking alcohol to cope with a loss.
D. all of the above
D is the correct answer. Anyone at any age can have a drinking problem. If you find that it's hard to stop after one or two drinks, you want to drink earlier and earlier in the day, or you are drinking to cope with a loss, you may have a problem. Talk with your doctor.
3. I may have a problem with depression if
A. I feel sad for a few days or weeks right after the death of a loved one.
B. I sometimes feel bad when I cannot do my favorite activity.
C. I feel sad all the time.
C is the correct answer. It is normal to feel sad and mourn when you have a loss, like the death of a loved one or not being able to do your favorite activity. But if you feel sad all the time or for more than a few weeks, tell your doctor. You may have a problem with depression that your doctor can help you with.
4. Not being happy with one's sex life
A. is just a normal part of aging.
B. is an issue you can discuss with your doctor.
C. is an issue you should not discuss with your doctor.
B is the correct answer. If you are having sexual problems, talk with your doctor about the issue and things you can do to improve the problem. Do not assume that it is due to your age.
Your Visit to the Doctor - Hospital Stays and ER Visits
Talking with a doctor during a hospital stay or in the emergency room (ER) can be stressful at any age. This section has tips to help you.
Most hospitals have a daily schedule. This means that things like your doctor visits, medical tests, and meals will be at a similar time each day. It may be helpful to know this schedule and talk to your doctors and nurses about how much choice you have about your daily schedule. Make sure you know what time your doctor will visit you so that you have your questions ready.
Questions you may want to ask your nurses or other medical staff in the hospital:
- How long do you think I will be in the hospital?
- What doctors and other medical staff will take care of my health?
- When will I see my doctor?
- What will be my daily schedule during my hospital stay?
A visit to the ER can be especially stressful. It may go more smoothly if you can take along
- your health insurance card or policy number
- a list of your medications
- a list of your health problems
- the names and phone numbers of your doctor
- one or two family members or friends.
Some people find it helpful to have this information with them at all times.
During your ER visit, ask questions if you do not know what a doctor or other medical staff is doing, such as what medical tests are being done. Make sure you understand what the ER doctor tells you about your health, or ask him or her to write it down.
Also, make sure you know if there is anything special you need to do after you go home from the ER. For example, if you have a bandage, find out when and how to change it. Tell your regular doctor(s) as soon as possible about your visit to the ER.
Questions you may want to ask medical staff in the ER:
- Will you talk to my regular doctor about my care?
- Do I need to make special doctor visits for my health problem?
- Can you write down what I need to do to care for my health problem?
- Is there someone who speaks my language and can explain what I need to do for my health problem? (If you speak a different language.)
1. Hospitals do not follow a regular schedule.
FALSE is the correct answer. Most hospitals have a daily schedule. This means that things like your doctor visits, medical tests, and meals will be at a similar time each day.
2. It may be helpful to know when your doctor will visit you in the hospital.
TRUE is the correct answer. Ask your nurse or other medical staff in the hospital what time your doctor will visit you so that you can have your questions ready.
3. It is important to bring as much information about your health as possible to the emergency room.
TRUE is the correct answer. Try to bring all your health information with you to the emergency room because the emergency room doctor may not know anything about your health history. Bring your health insurance card or policy number, a list of your medications, a list of your health problems, and the name and phone number of your regular doctor.
4. You need to tell your doctor if you have been to the emergency room.
TRUE is the correct answer. It is important to tell your regular doctor as soon as possible when you have been to the emergency room. Your doctor may want to you to come in for a visit to check on your health.
Asking questions is key to good communication with your doctor. If you don't ask questions, your doctor may think you do not need or want more information. Asking questions helps your doctor know what is important to you. It also lets your doctor know when something he or she says is unclear.
There are many types of questions you may want to ask your doctor. For example, ask questions when you do not know the meaning or spelling of a word, like aneurysm or infarct. Also, it is important to ask questions when instructions are not clear. For example, what does taking medicine with food mean -- before, during, or after a meal?
Asking Questions - Asking About Your Diagnosis
Your diagnosis is what your doctor thinks is your health problem. Most times your doctor will make the diagnosis based on what you say are your symptoms and the results of a physical exam, lab tests, and other medical tests.
Understanding your health problem can help you make decisions about what you would like to do about it. Also, if you know how the health problem may affect your life and activities and what may happen if the condition gets worse, you will be better able to deal with the problem.
Here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor about your health problem.
- What is the name of the condition? How do you spell it?
- Why do you think I have this health problem? What may have caused it?
- How long may this problem last? Will it be forever?
Other questions you may want to ask your doctor about your health problem:
- How will this problem affect me? Will I need to change some of my activities?
- Are there long-term effects of this problem?
- Can my health problem be cured? How can it be treated or managed, made better?
- How can I learn more about my condition?
1. Asking your doctor questions is
A. important for good communication.
B. not helpful to your doctor.
C. not helpful to you.
A is the correct answer. Asking questions is important for good communication with your doctor. It lets your doctor know when he or she needs to explain something better. It also lets your doctor know what is important to you about your health.
2. A diagnosis is
A. a type of medication.
B. a type of medical test.
C. your health problem.
C is the correct answer. Your diagnosis is what your doctor thinks is your health problem, based on what you say your symptoms are and the results of a physical exam, lab tests, and other medical tests.
3. Knowing the name of my health problem
A. is not important as long as my doctor knows it.
B. is sometimes important.
C. is always important.
C is the correct answer. Knowing the name of your health problem is an important first step for understanding it.
4. "Why do you think I have this health problem?" is
A. an important question to ask your doctor.
B. is a useless question.
C. is a silly question
A is the correct answer. It is important to ask your doctor why you have a health problem because it may be helpful to know what might have caused it. You also may want to ask about how long the problem might last and if there is anything you can do to improve or cure the condition.
Asking Questions - Asking About Your Medications
Your doctor may prescribe a medicine for your health problem. Make sure you know the name and spelling of the drug and understand why your doctor wants you to take it. Ask your doctor to write down how often and for how long you should take it. If you will need to get more of the medicine once you have used it up, ask how to get the medicine refilled.
It is important to ask your doctor what changes you need to make when taking the medication. For instance, ask "Are there foods, drinks, other medications, or activities I should avoid while taking this medication?"
Many medicines have special instructions for how to take them. For example, there may be a certain time of the day that you should take the medicine. You may want to ask your doctor, "Should I take my medicine at meals or between meals?" and "Do I need to take the medicine on an empty stomach or with food or a whole glass of water?" Also, ask your doctor what you should do if you forget to take your medicine and miss a dose.
Sometimes medicines affect older people differently than younger people. You may want to ask when the medicine will begin to work. Also, ask your doctor what are common side effects or unwanted feelings or symptoms you may have while taking the medicine. Let your doctor know if the medicine does not seem to be working or is causing you problems. If you want to stop taking a medicine, check with your doctor first.
Call to let your primary doctor know as soon as possible if another doctor prescribes a medication for you. Also, call to check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications. It may be helpful to keep a list of all the prescription and over-the-counter medicines you take and when you take them.
Your pharmacist also can help answer your questions about medications, including what the label on the medicine bottle means. Also, if asked, your pharmacist can put your medicines in easy-to-open containers and may be able to use large-print labels.
Because the pharmacy keeps a record of the prescription medications you get there, it may be helpful to get all your prescriptions from the same pharmacy. That way, they have a complete record of all your prescription medicines.
For more about medicines, click here to go to the Taking Medicines topic at http://nihseniorhealth.gov/takingmedicines/toc.html.
1. If a specialist prescribes a medication for me,
A. I should let my primary doctor know as soon as possible.
B. I do not need to tell my regular doctor.
C. I should not take the medication.
A is the correct answer. If a specialist prescribes a medication for you, call to let your primary doctor know as soon as possible. It is important for your primary doctor to know all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you take. Some medicines should not be taken together.
2. Before you take a medicine, you should talk to your doctor to find out
A. if there are any foods or drinks you should not have while taking it.
B. if you should take the medicine with or without a meal.
C. if there are any activities you should avoid while taking the medication.
D. all of the above
D is the correct answer. Many medicines have special instructions. Make sure that you make notes about any special instructions before taking the medication.
3. If a medication is causing me problems, I should
A. ignore the unwanted feelings or symptoms.
B. talk to my doctor before I stop taking the medicine.
C. not bother my doctor and just stop taking the medicine for a few days.
B is the correct answer. If a medication is causing you problems, talk to your doctor before you stop taking it. Sometimes medications can cause you to have unwanted feelings or symptoms. Your doctor may have something to help with the side effects.
4. In addition to my doctor, I can learn more about my medications from
A. my family.
B. my friends.
C. my pharmacist.
C is the correct answer. Your pharmacist can answer questions about your medications. Your pharmacist can also put your medicines in easy-to-open bottles.
Asking Questions - Asking About Medical Tests
There are different reasons why you may need a medical test. Sometimes a doctor does a test, such as taking your blood or giving you an x-ray, to find out what is wrong or to learn more about your health condition. Some tests, like cancer screenings, are done regularly to check for hidden medical problems.
Before you have a medical test, ask your doctor to explain why you need it, what it will show about your health, what it will cost, and if your health insurance will cover the costs. Also, ask what you need to do to get ready for the test. For example, you may not be able to eat before the medical test.
Here are some other questions to ask your doctor about medical tests.
- How is the test done? What steps does the medical test involve?
- Are there any dangers or side effects?
- How will I find out the results of my test? How long will it take to get the results?
- What will we know after the test?
When the results of the test are ready, make sure the doctor tells you what they are and explains what they mean. You may want to ask your doctor for a written copy of the test results. If the test is done by someone other than your regular doctor, like a specialist, ask to have the results sent to your primary doctor.
1. Some medical tests are done even if you feel fine.
TRUE is the correct answer. Some medical tests are done regularly, even if you feel fine, just to make sure that you do not have any hidden health problems. These tests are called screenings. Medical tests also can be done to find out what is wrong when you have something bothering you or to learn more about your health condition.
2. You do not need to find out why your doctor wants you to have a medical test.
FALSE is the correct answer. Before you have a medical test, ask your doctor to explain why you need it and what it will show about your health.
3. It is important for your doctor to explain the results of your medical tests.
TRUE is the correct answer. Ask your doctor how you will find out your medical test results and how long it will take to get them. When the results of your medical test are ready, ask the doctor to explain what they mean.
4. If a medical test is done by someone other than your regular doctor, you should have the results sent to your doctor.
TRUE is the correct answer. Your primary doctor should have a record of all the medical tests you have had and the results of the tests.
Asking Questions - Remembering the Answers
No matter what your age, it is easy to forget a lot of what your doctor says. Also, sometimes what your doctor says may be hard to understand. As your doctor gives you information about your health, it is a good idea to make sure that you understand it and that you will be able to remember it.
Always ask your doctor about anything he or she says that seems unclear. You might say, "I want to make sure I understand. Could you explain a little more?" or "I didn't understand that word. What does it mean?" You may also find it helpful to repeat back to your doctor what he or she says using your own words and ask if you are correct.
Ask if your doctor has any written information or DVDs, CDs, cassettes, or videotapes about your health condition and/or treatment. Also, ask your doctor about other places where you can get more information to help you understand, such as websites or health organizations.
Sometimes your doctor may want you to talk to another member of the health care team about your condition. These people may be better able to explain the health problem and help you make decisions about what to do about it. These people, such as nurses and physician assistants, may also be able to spend more time with you than your doctor.
Taking notes during your doctor visit can help you remember what you and your doctor talk about. Take along a notepad and pen or pencil, and write down your doctor's main points or ask your doctor to write them down for you. If you cannot write while the doctor is talking to you, make notes in the waiting room after your visit. Some doctors may allow you to audiotape record your visit if you do not want to, or cannot, take notes.
If you are not sure about what your doctor said to do about your health after you get home, call his or her office. A nurse or other staff member can check with your doctor and call you back. You can also ask if your doctor or someone else on the health care team you have talked to has an e-mail address you can use to send questions.
1. It is easy to forget what your doctor says
A. only at a young age.
B. only when you are older.
C. at any age.
C is the correct answer. No matter what your age, it is easy to forget a lot of what your doctor says. Writing down notes about your doctor's main points or audiotape recording your visit can help you to remember.
2. If something that your doctor says seems unclear,
A. assume your doctor will explain it more later.
B. always ask your doctor to explain it more clearly.
C. it is not important as long as your doctor understands.
B is the correct answer. Sometimes what your doctor says may be hard to understand. Always ask your doctor to explain what is unclear to you. Your doctor may not realize that what he or she is saying is confusing. You may find it useful to repeat back to your doctor what he or she says using your own words, and then ask if you are correct.
3. Taking notes during your doctor visit
A. is a way to help you remember what you and your doctor talked about.
B. is rude and disrespectful.
C. is not a useful way to spend your doctor visit.
A is the correct answer. You may find it helpful to bring a pen or pencil and notepad with you to your doctor visit and write down what your doctor says. If you cannot write while your doctor is talking, you can write your notes in the waiting room after your visit.
4. If you forget what your doctor said to do about your health after you get home,
A. wait a few days to see if you remember.
B. call your doctor.
C. just wait until your next doctor visit to ask.
B is the correct answer. If you are not sure what your doctor said to do about your health after you get home, call his or her office as soon as possible. Someone from your doctor's staff can talk to your doctor and call you back. You can also find out if your doctor has an e-mail address where you can send your questions.