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How Family and Friends Can Help Get the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Visit

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It can be intimidating to visit the doctor. Usually we only visit the doctor when there’s a problem, and worried about a potential illness or simply feeling unwell can make communication difficult.

In a study, 75% of surgeons believed that they communicated satisfactorily with their patients. However, only 20% of the patients reported satisfactory communication with their doctors. Patient surveys have consistently shown that they want better communication with their doctors.

However, communication is important when meeting a doctor or a specialist. A medical appointment lasts on average for just 20 minutes. There’s not much time to ask questions and for a doctor to answer them, and breakdown in communication can create uncertainty and confusion for a patient.

Common complaints by patients about doctors include:

  • Withholding information
  • “Talking down” to patients
  • Using unfamiliar medical terms
  • Pressing the patient to make a serious medical decision without adequate knowledge or time to think about it

In fact, research has shown that effective patient-physician communication can improve a patient’s health as quantifiably as many drugs—providing a potential explanation for the placebo effect seen in clinical trials.

The solution for improving communication with your doctor? Bring help.

Family and Friends Can Help Communicate with Your Doctor

It can be helpful to take a family member or friend with you when you go to the doctor’s office. You may feel more confident if someone else is with you.

Other benefits of bringing a friend or family member to the doctor include:

  • Family and friends can take notes and ask important questions
  • Can also present your story in a logical and straightforward way
  • Can advocate on your behalf

Also, a relative or friend can help remind you about things you planned to tell or ask the doctor. They can also help you remember what the doctor says.

For the best results, let your companion know in advance how they can be most helpful during the meeting with a doctor.

Other Tips for Improving Communication with Your Doctor

Besides bringing a friend or family member to your appointment, there are some other tips that can improve communication with your doctor, including:

Jot down some notes before you go

Have an idea of how you want your time with the doctor to go. Make sure you talk about what you want to talk about and ask questions.

Have your health story ready

When you get to the office, make sure you know what you want to say, so that you can explain your health concerns effectively.

Be straightforward with your physician

Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions–open-ended questions (e.g., questions that start with ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘why’) are also better. Finally, be honest if you feel you’re not being heard by your physician.

Questions About British Columbia’s Laws?

Do you have any questions for the team at Spraggs? Leave a comment below — we’d love to hear from you. And, as always, if you have any questions about medical malpractice or personal injury, be sure to contact one of our lawyers in Vancouver.