Our Teddy Bear's Journey

Theodore was born with renal failure. This is his story.

Being a Good Patient

on July 14, 2012

I know you know I don’t mean “shut up and do what they tell you” type of good patient.

Too many doctors these days are too busy to really take the time to sit and have a conversation with you. (Especially OB’s – those prenatal visits need to be longer than 10 minutes!) We have always chosen doctors for our family that will take the time, and we lucked out with Teddy’s nephrology team being so awesome because we were hardly in a position to be picky in the beginning  – though we certainly would have switched by now if we were unhappy. But I talk to too many people online who have questions – very serious questions – about their or their child’s health and they’re having to turn to the internet for information that should be coming from their doctors.

Yes, it would be nice if your doctor sat down and chatted with you for 10-20 minutes about test results, current concerns, what’s going on with you or your child, etc. But they rarely do. But that does not mean that they WON’T if you ask.

So ask. You NEED to ask! You should NOT have to search the internet for information about a test you’ve just had – your doctor, who is looking at the results and went to medical school for the sole purpose of being able to discuss those results with you – should be able to provide you with information specific to YOUR case.

I know it’s difficult to come up with intelligent questions when you’ve just been handed some new information. I usually need a day or two to do some research on my own before being able to formulate good questions. But in the absence of really GOOD questions, keep these EASY questions in your back pocket. (Literally, if it helps. Take a notebook to EVERY appointment, and write these questions on the first page.)

– What does this mean?

– What were the results of this test exactly?

– What is the normal range?

– What does this test tell us? What doesn’t it tell us?

– Is this concerning?

– Does this need to be treated?

– What are our options?

– Again, what does this mean?

– What does this word mean?

– Can you please explain that again?

– Can you draw a picture or is there a drawing or photograph we can look at? (super helpful – our urologist drew us pictures at several points when Teddy was in the NICU. I had the nurse make a copy of one of them for us. I laugh now, because the procedure was so simple in comparison to our knowledge base NOW… but at the time, we were overwhelmed and it was all new to us, and the picture was so important to our understanding.

 

Those questions should give you a good foundation of information. I personally think the most important one is “what does this mean?” It’s all-purpose.

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4 responses to “Being a Good Patient

  1. I always ask if I can get a copy of the results and notations for my file. So many doctors looked surprised at that request at first, then I explain that I need extra copies when I visit all the specialists so I can related data on hand if it comes up. We were told to do this at the clinic in MN and given a binder to organize it. I also have all results sent to our pediatrician who will look things up for me and explain. Sometimes we schedule what we call explanation and planning appointments. He bills them as well baby, and they last about a hour.

    This is a good post though. Thank you.

  2. That’s a good aspect of UI.

  3. Yes, I always have those blank look moments when we learn something new. I’ll have to write some of these down.

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