In order to feel confident about the medical treatments you are receiving, it's important to have clear and comfortable communication with the doctors, nurses, social workers, and other professionals involved in your care. Here are some tips for making the most of interactions with your team.
- Consider bringing a friend or relative with you to take notes and help you remember what was discussed.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions and have things repeated or explained in terms that you understand.
- If you are upset and not ready to discuss something, it's okay to tell your doctor that you need to come back later. You need to get information when you are best able to understand and absorb it.
- Some articles suggest taping consultations. However, some physicians are not comfortable being taped, so be sure to ask your doctor beforehand if this is acceptable. Not wishing to be taped is not a reflection of the doctor's skill or competence.
- Ask your doctor what the best method is for addressing further questions. Most doctors' offices have nurses or administrative personnel who can answer medical and non-medical questions or refer you to someone who can.
- Ask your doctor and other healthcare providers if they prefer e-mail or telephone conversations for answering questions. While some doctors check their e-mail regularly, many others do not, and important messages from a sick patient may not be noticed. Conversely, some physicians check their e-mail often and can respond more quickly to brief questions that way.
- Memorial Sloan Kettering has staff who are experienced in helping patients with insurance, financial issues, job issues, emotional needs, and other aspects of cancer treatment. Ask your doctor or nurse for a referral if you are interested.
- Write down the names and phone numbers of people you talk to for future reference.