Effectively communicating with a physician is essential to receiving both the right diagnosis and the proper treatment for pain. When there is a lapse in communication between a patient and his or her doctor, both the patient and the physician suffer. Often times, a miscommunication leads to a misdiagnosis, which in turn can lead to severe medical problems and even hospitalization.
On the other hand, people who are informed and prepared to present critical details in clarity will be able to receive the best care possible, increasing their chances of reducing hospital utilization.
Here are some simple steps on how to effectively communicate with your physician:
1. Be Specific
When speaking with your doctor, be specific with the details of the pain or ailment plaguing your body. Vague details can lead your doctor to misdiagnose your pain, for they can only surmise as to what is the cause of your pain.
2. Speak Up
Do not be shy about your pain. Many people feel uncomfortable with doctors and end up saying too little about their pain; however, in order for your physician to treat you effectively, they need you to speak up. Inform your doctor as to why you have made the appointment and any related symptoms to your condition. Likewise, offer your added side effects like if your pain interferes with any activities such as work or leisure activities, and whether your mood changes with the pain.
3. Use Adjectives
As you are the only one who knows the extent of your pain and how acute it is, be descriptive with your doctor in order to help him or her understand the pain’s locality and severity. Use words such as aching, throbbing, stabbing, tender, burning, sharp, numb, and etc.
4. Rate Your Pain
Before your doctor’s appointment, start keeping a record diary of your pain. Using a scale of 0 to 10, rate your pain, noting when the pain worsens and eases. This can give your doctor a visual insight into your pain and what might be behind it.
5. Track Your Pain
Let your doctor know whether your pain is periodic, occasional, continuous, or related to a certain activity. As clearly as possible explain when your pain is at its worst and when it is at its best. Additionally, relay any details of pain triggers such as food, sleep, activity, etc.
6. Be Honest
Do not be afraid to disagree with your doctor. If what they are relaying back to you seems unrelated to your pain or symptoms, tell them. This can help them to adjust their diagnosis.
7. Be Prepared
As your appointment approaches, write out any questions or concerns you have so you can accurately relay them back to your doctor. This ensures you will not forget any symptoms.
Speaking with your doctor succinctly and effectively allows you to receive the best care possible as you and your doctor will both be on the same page when it comes to your diagnosis.