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5 Tips to Talk with your Doctor

Updated on July 8, 2015
peachpurple profile image

Peachpurple is a homemaker, always thinking of ways to keep her family healthy and strong with proper way of eating and living

Ask about your medications

Medications shouldn't be taken lightly. You should know what you are consuming.
Medications shouldn't be taken lightly. You should know what you are consuming. | Source

Talking to the doctor

According to a recent health survey based on 30 medical studies, up to 50% of patients forgot the medical information that the doctors had given to them or caregivers.

Surprisingly, almost half of what the patients remembered were incorrect and much confusion was raised.

Evert patient who visits a doctor is a consumer, a customer to health care. You have the right to ask and receive correct information from the specialists.

It is not embarrassing or wrong to repeat your questions unless you have hearing or memory problems.

When you visit he doctor, you have to talk to him by telling him your problems and asking him questions because if you don't ask him questions, he presumed that you had understood the whole situation.

Unfortunately, talking to your doctor may take some time but he doesn't have the whole day for you!

This hub will teach you how to prepare yourself to talk to your doctor before your appointment arrives.


Read this book before you see the doctor

This is an ideal book for adults to know the latest medication prescribed by doctors. It has a great deal of description of the latest medication hard to spell names, with specific information for each drug usage, dosage and side effects. One is able to understand the emotional problems that a patient may encounter, abnormal behavior after consuming the medications.


Old folks language barrier

Old folks especially Chinese could not communicate with Malay or Hindu doctors due to illiterate in language
Old folks especially Chinese could not communicate with Malay or Hindu doctors due to illiterate in language | Source

Reasons for Misunderstandings


Sometimes, it is due to:

  • conversation misunderstanding between the doctor and patient,
  • forgetfulness,
  • patient stubbornness,
  • refusal to ask for further details due to embarrassment or
  • want to save his own ego( save face) and
  • lack of confidence (dare not ask).
  • difficulties to communicate in different languages


To be honest, getting treatment and consulting advice from the doctor can be a nerve-racking experience for every patient especially when there is language barrier in Asian countries.


What did you say??

A Chinese saying; A duck talk to a chicken" refers two person talking in different languages, a language barrier
A Chinese saying; A duck talk to a chicken" refers two person talking in different languages, a language barrier | Source

Doctor and Patient Communication Breakdown

For example, in Malaysia, most doctors are working in General Hospitals are Malay doctors.

They couldn’t understand or explain clearly the medical terms to non-Malay patients such as the elderly folks and illiterate patients who are Chinese educated , speaks only Chinese dialects or non educated at all. The same problem applies for the Hindu elderly folks too.

As the saying goes: "Like a chicken talking to a duck"

Vice versa, non-Malay patients couldn’t explain or express the pain they are suffering unless a nurse translator or a kind Samaritan who happens to be around, could understand their language, dialects are able help them out.

When the patients are stressed or frustrated, they pay more attention to the medicine dosage instead of the treatment details on how to cure or prevent the sickness or illness from recurrence.

In other words, they do not understand that wrong dose or overdose of the medication can be fatal.

Most of medicines prescribed by the doctor can be fatal if taken together with other drugs ( medicines) without consulting the doctor first.

This may result to side effects, allergies and symptoms of another illness.



How to talk to your doctor

Doctors = Spiderman

My doctor looks alike Spiderman
My doctor looks alike Spiderman | Source

Are you afraid to talk to your doctor?

  • Young or old patients are afraid to talk to doctors in charge of their healthcare problems.
  • Most of them claimed that their fear was induced by the difficulty to explain their problems.
  • Some patients are reluctant to discuss or reveal their health problems to the doctor.
  • Hence, both the doctor is unable to diagnose the actual source of the illness.
  • Unable to accept the doctor's suggestions
  • Feeling the pressure from the doctor's presence or words.


Help Me!

Doctor fear symptoms
Doctor fear symptoms | Source

Do you fear when you talk to the doctor?

Why are you afraid of?

See results

Bring a friend

Bring a friend, your adult kids  or neighbor to help you out
Bring a friend, your adult kids or neighbor to help you out | Source

Tip #1: Bring someone with you


Bring along someone with you if you have problem with:

  • failing memory,
  • shyness,
  • fear of doctor presence,
  • language problems ,
  • especially someone you know is an illiterate patient or
  • an elderly folk intends to pay a visit to the doctor...

You will feel more comfortable, less panic and anxiety when you have another caregiver or family member to help you by :

  • taking notes of the doctor’s orders
  • advises and important medical information.
  • Your companion will be your right hand man, helps you to listen.
  • He can understand and ask questions when required.

Sometimes, old folks tend to forget the important questions when they meet the doctor face to face. Suddenly, he forgets everything!



Bring Along ...

one or two pens that is working. Check out the pens before you leave the house.
one or two pens that is working. Check out the pens before you leave the house. | Source
get an old unused book from  our kids, buy a small note book to jot down doctor's instructions
get an old unused book from our kids, buy a small note book to jot down doctor's instructions | Source

Tip #2 :Come prepared


  1. Do bring along a notepad to make short notes regarding the medicine dosages, when and how many times should be taken per day.
  2. Jot down what actions should be taken before taking medical tests and what to do after the test is done.
  3. Write down the doctors advice on health care, diets and what to do and not to do.
  4. They hate to repeat again.
  5. If you are slow at writing, ask your friend or companion to help you to jot down the notes.


This recorder is very convenient to carry and easy to use with 2 large buttons.

One for STOP and another for RECORD, any old folks can understand that.

There is a toggle wheel that provide the function to seek forward or rewind the recording session.

As for the ENTER button in the center, that is the message prompts, pause for a while, like reading a passage.

Hit "STOP" button when recording has finished.

There is also the DELETE button where you can erase the recorded voice recording but it will ask for your verification before deleting it.

Battery life is long since all it does was recording voices.

Great value for money.

Tip #3: - Record Conversation

  1. It would be much easier for you to cut down all the hassle if you could ask for the doctor permission to allow you to record the conversation so that you can replay his detail information and advice at home at your own pace.
  2. Smartphone and tablets are convenient gadgets that come with recording voice messages function which is easy to use.
  3. Practice the recording at home so that you won’t panic later on.
  4. Don’t ask the doctor how to use your smartphone to do the recording!



What Questions Can I Ask ?

What is the test for?
Are there any alternatives?
How do you spell the name (of the drug)?
How much does it cost?
Can I forgo surgery?
Is there any side effects?
Do I have to fast ?
What are the complications?
When can I stop taking it?
When will I get the result?
Will there be any recurrence?
Will it "clash" with another medications I am taking now ?

Don't be afraid to ask questions

Ask questions, related to your medications,  illness and symptoms. Don't ask silly questions like "Will I Die??"
Ask questions, related to your medications, illness and symptoms. Don't ask silly questions like "Will I Die??" | Source

Tip #4: Ask questions

  1. You have the right to ask the doctor to elaborate further the medical information about the sickness / illness that you are suffering.
  2. Do not be afraid to ask questions.
  3. It is not foolish and you don’t have to feel embarrassed to ask any questions regarding health related issues whether physically or internally because you need to know the important advice and tips to aid you to recover quickly.
  4. Get a small book to jot down your questions, concerning your illness before your next appointment.
  5. List out the important questions in the top 3 because the doctor in charge is limited to a short time to communicate with each patient.
  6. Do not ask “no common sense” questions. It is wise to check out with medical books, magazines or websites before you ask silly questions.
  7. Ask these questions every time you seek consultation with a doctor.” What is my actual problem?” “What should I do now?” and “Why is it important for me to do this?”
  8. These questions are not demanding. They help you to understand further the seriousness of the situation and overcome the sickness / illness faster before another unexpected problem occurs.
  9. In addition, help to prevent any relapse from happening.


Don't leave the brochures behind

Get as many information as possible for free
Get as many information as possible for free | Source

Tip #5: Don’t leave empty handed


  1. Ask the doctor for handwritten instructions, useful when you seek the pharmacy over the counter medications or aids.
  2. You may find brochures, pamphlets and leaflets related to healthcare to aid you in gaining more valuable knowledge of the sickness / illness.
  3. Brochures self teaches you ways to improve your personal health care at home.
  4. Some of this information is printed in bilingual languages with colorful pictures, convenient for patients to read and understand easily.
  5. Don’t be shy to ask. You will not lose anything


Be happy

Go home with a happy face. At least you got your answers, right?
Go home with a happy face. At least you got your answers, right? | Source

Summarize Tips

  • Always check with various websites what the medications are for
  • Do not trust the doctor's prescription completely. Doctor and the pharmacist are humans. They make mistakes too.
  • Your health welfare is more important than your pride. Don't be as stubborn as a bull.
  • Always ask doctor for the medications side effects
  • Let the doctor know if you have any allergies to drugs or food.
  • Ask the doctor what type of diet you should follow.
  • Be happy when you obtained your answers. Nothing is perfect. Life has to go on, right?
  • Talking to your doctor will help you to reduce health risk, reduce doctor consultation cost and healthcare cost.
  • Talking will save your life!

© 2015 peachy

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    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 2 years ago from India

      Yes. You have given very relevant points here. People used to feel uncomfortable or intimidated in front of a doctor. Now the trend is changing. Educated patients ask a lot of questions and clarify their doubts during the process of treatment

      Voted up and shared

    • lex123 profile image

      lex123 2 years ago

      Well structured hub. The readers will get real benefit by reading these tips. Voted up.

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

      Really useful information and suggestions, particularly for older patients. My husband and I always discuss the questions we have and make a list before our doctor visits. However, my parents rarely ask questions of their doctors. I think they feel it would be disrespectful or that they will seem stupid. I will send this to them because I definitely want to ensure that they get their questions answered. Voted up and pinned. Thanks!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 2 years ago from Germany

      A very useful hub. Most older people are too shy to ask the doctor about any particular question they have. You are right. It´s great to have someone who can voice out and talk to the doctor well. I have noticed that with some of my relatives. Voted up and useful. Thanks.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      "Will I die?" might not be a silly question with the side effects of many of these medicines! I have no fear anymore talking to doctors and I will talk to them straight; after all we are paying them and we need to remember that and they are not saints. Great article done up very well! ^+

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Excellent information on a very important topic. We should all heed these instructions. Thank you and voted !

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Relevant and informative, I always begin early and take a list of questions to be answered. My medical practitioners have been helpful and clarify what I need to know. Nothing worse than leaving a surgery without a clear understanding of medication and diagnosis. Excellent advice on a serious topic.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 2 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      I often came home from a doctor's visit and forgot to ask about something. So, now I have to write it down then found out that I was embarrassed to bring out my list. lol Thanks for this hub, you shared a lot of good information. I voted up and useful.

      Blessings to you.

    • Indian Chef profile image

      Indian Chef 2 years ago from New Delhi India

      Patient should talk to doctor in lay men terms because patients dont know what medical term means fully and they confuse the doctor about what they want to say.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      You will never know unless you ask. Very valid points and questions.

    • Chriswillman90 profile image

      Krzysztof Willman 2 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      Well written, structured, and most importantly very informative. I find myself embarrassed to ask questions sometimes, but I realize my health is more important than a little embarrassment.

      The other tips you addressed are on point and very useful for everyone. We all go to the doctor and there's a lot of things we're unaware of. Preparation is essential and listening is necessary to gain the most knowledge you can from them. Voted up.

    • peachpurple profile image
      Author

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      Thanks, i noticed that my in laws had these problems, still having them until now

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      This is a well written piece and good advice. It is great if a family member or some other interested party can accompany older family members when they visit the doctor. My annual checkup is coming soon. Good reminder to be prepared!

    • peachpurple profile image
      Author

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      Hope that someone can accompany you. Take care

    • the rawspirit profile image

      Robert Morgan 24 months ago from Hutchinson Island, FL - Myrtle Beach, SC - Scottsdale AZ

      Nicely written. My wife is a nurse and I'm a retired Naturopath. Both of us help friends and family when they are having to visit an MD. We have found its good to have someone who knows the medical system, to speak on your behalf. Blessings

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 24 months ago from USA

      Wonderful tips you have there! I always accompany my husband as he tends to forget things and not fully understand what the doctors say.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 24 months ago from USA

      Your illustrations are lovely. My main problem with doctors tends to be them sometimes not understanding that I am a customer and they are my health care consultant not a parent figure or order giver. I am ultimately in charge or my own health.

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 24 months ago from Florida

      Great information here. I hate going to doctors period, so when I have to go I prepare myself first. Now I have a doctor who is very easy to talk to and he gives me everything in writing.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 23 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Useful and so well-informed. I don't like going to doctor visits. I use that as my last choice.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 23 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Useful and so well-informed. I don't like going to doctor visits. I use that as my last choice.

    • peachpurple profile image
      Author

      peachy 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      thanks DDE, neither do I

    • peachpurple profile image
      Author

      peachy 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      thanks quildon, it is to prepare first

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 23 months ago from Singapore

      Oh boy. You have it right, Peach. Miscommunication is dangerous, especially in matters of health!

    • peachpurple profile image
      Author

      peachy 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      Thanks midget38,

      Miscommunication is horrible

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 23 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Very important hub and well presented!

      I agree, Its important to clear all doubts about the illness, medicines , their side effects with the doctor. One should not feel shy to ask questions. Before meeting with the doctor its important to keep in mind or note down what all has to be asked.

      Nice and useful hub, thanks for sharing!

    • peachpurple profile image
      Author

      peachy 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      thanks chitra, i agree with you 100%

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 23 months ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      As I get older, I'm starting to write my own medical file at home, so that there's no confusion with what's been taken in the past and I find this helps a lot.

    • peachpurple profile image
      Author

      peachy 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      I also write down the medicines I was given, check out the usage online and wrote them down in pencil on the medical card but my doctor was alarmed when I knew what medicines he gave me

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 23 months ago from America

      I try to remember to ask questions about whatever is bothering me. Good information in your hub voted up.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 23 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      peachpurple, You have presented a lot of useful information. I think there comes a point in our life when we are not embarrassed to ask any questions. The older I get the easier it gets. A very good hub.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 23 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Do a rewritten, more concise version of this and submit it to AARP for a possible sale. Well done, but if you send this "as is" it will need good proofreading first, and a shorter version will be more likely to be accepted.

    • peachpurple profile image
      Author

      peachy 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      Thanks moonlake, true that asking important questions are helpful

      Thanks ladyguitarpicker, the older ones get the bolder you dare to ask questions

      Thanks persky, i need to know what you mean by as is

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 23 months ago from Oklahoma

      I have lots of problems talking with doctors. One of my biggest problems is remembering to ask all my questions. That's why I usually make a list.

      Great hub.

    • peachpurple profile image
      Author

      peachy 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      thanks larry, I told my dad to list them out too

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 22 months ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I always take hubby with me to help me remember what the doctor said. Sometimes, I will also take notes. My father-in-law recently went to the doctor and recorded the conversation which I think was a very good idea. It's so important to ask any questions you have and a good doctor will be patient in answering them for you.

    • peachpurple profile image
      Author

      peachy 22 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      thanks sgbrown , indeed, your father in law made a wise move

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 22 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Great suggestions. I just visited the doctor for the first time in thirteen years, and I was armed with questions and received the answers I needed. I am disgustingly healthy. :)

    • peachpurple profile image
      Author

      peachy 22 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      good news billy, you are well prepared

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 22 months ago from Orange County, California

      This is excellent advice. My doctor types up a report on her computer when I see her and gives me a copy of it when I leave. She also has a website where I can log on and see my test results and complete medical report. It is so helpful! I wish more doctors did this.

    • peachpurple profile image
      Author

      peachy 22 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      Thanks @Deboraho -Diane, your doctor is very techno savy. I wish our country doctors are up todate too

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 22 months ago from North Carolina

      all great tips and love your drawings

      Kim

    • Happy Moment profile image

      James 22 months ago from The Eastern Bypass

      The greatest problem is miscommunication and misunderstanding on both sides. There should be atleast a balance in terms of terminologies. A doctor should consider the level of education of the patient so as to avoid misdiagnosis. Very educative article.Keep up

    • Peter Grujic profile image

      Peter Alexander 21 months ago from Pittsburgh

      I had to read one of your articles and this one is great. Being a pharmacist, I echo your sentiments to the many people I fill prescriptions for. I always recommend that patients ask questions and be more assertive in their care. As I tell them, they are the pilot while the rest of us dedicated to their care are co-pilots. You give great advise!

    • SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

      Sanjay Sharma 21 months ago from Mandi (HP) India

      Thanks for the wonderful tips. The patient should openly talk to the doctor and avoid concealing anything relevant so that the problem may not aggravate.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 15 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      These are excellent tips for a patient to know when talking with a doctor. When a person does see a doctor, it is necessary to know the name of the medications and dosages that he or she is taking before meeting with the doctor. You could also bring your medication with you. I am sharing this hub with HP followers and on Facebook.

    • peachpurple profile image
      Author

      peachy 15 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      @paulkuehn thanks sir

    • kbjee profile image

      Kalyan Banerjee 8 months ago from Durgapur

      nice presentation video

    • peachpurple profile image
      Author

      peachy 8 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      glad you like it

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