Prepare ahead of time. Have it clear in your mind what you want to discuss. If you have a problem, try to find out if others in your family have, or have had that problem. Make notes of all your symptoms. Speak up and tell your doctor all your concerns, family history, and anything that is on your mind. Be honest. Don’t hide embarrassing symptoms, side effects of medications and other issues. A doctor cannot treat conditions of which he is not aware. If you have trouble articulating your problem or hearing the doctor, take your trusted person with you to help in this communication. Listen reflectively. Ask for clarification if you need to. Ask for the doctor’s advice and share your thoughts. Understanding your treatment plan helps you to participate in your care with your doctor as a team to promote your healing. Double check. Ask questions. Ask for clarification. Check the notes you made ahead of time to double check that all your questions have been answered. Make sure you leave with instructions for follow-up care and instructions. Know when your next appointment is and who to call with any questions.
If cost is a concern, do not feel embarrassed to talk to your doctor about this. Doctors are able and willing to offer a number of cost-saving strategies. Here are some questions to ask: How much will this cost me? Will it be covered by my health insurance? How much will I have to pay out of pocket? Are there any good alternatives if I can’t afford to pay for it. Are there generic medications I can take rather than taking a brand-name one? Are there any programs to help consumers like me reduce these costs? Making cost-cutting decisions without your doctor’s input can be harmful. Taking expired medications to save money, cutting pills in half without being told to do so by your doctor, not taking the medication at all, or replacing medication with an over-the-counter drug, herbal supplement or nondrug treatment can be harmful. Many people worry about expressing financial concerns but the worry itself can cause stress that is harmful to your healing.
—Marilyn Fleming, RN, MSN