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Communicating with Medical Professionals  

Jennifer Latham Robinson

It’s easy to assume that medical professionals are the ones in the driver’s seat when it comes to healthcare management.  However, patients are in a unique position to take control over their plans.  Here are some ways individuals can be pro-active:

  • Write questions and concerns down prior to medical office visits and make sure that all points are reviewed.  Writing down the answers to questions is just as important as writing down the questions.
  • Don’t be shy.  Medical professionals are talented, but they aren’t mind readers. Often times, they are relying on feedback from the patient.  
  • Specify.  If something hurts, describe the pain and try to pinpoint exactly where it’s felt.
  • Track issues.  For example, the swelling of a residual limb may be connected to medication, diet, weather, or activities.  
  • Take responsibility.  Some things may be out of a patient’s control, but many lifestyle choices have a direct affect on health and quality of life.
  • Confront issues.  If a medical professional isn’t using his or her ‘listening ears’, a reality check may be in order.  Second opinions are always an option, but medical professionals should always be given a realistic opportunity to rectify issues.
  • Be compliant.  Don’t missva medical appointment if you don’t have a good reason to do so.  Take medical advice seriously.
  • Remember you are a person, not a number.  It’s easy for some medical professionals to forget they are treating the person, not the body part.  A bad personality clash between a patient and a medical professional can mean it’s time to move on.  On the flip side, some technically brilliant medical professionals just have lousy bedside manners.  If the priority is surgical brilliance, not informal chit-chat, maybe the bedside manners can be overlooked.  That’s a personal call that only the patient can make.

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