Clear communication benefits both patients and the health care team. When patients tell their health care providers what they are experiencing, the team can help resolve problems, relieve pain, and improve the treatment outcome. When members of the care team answer patients' questions, it can ease fear, clarify how to follow the treatment plan, and help patients be effective members of their care teams.
Here are some pointers for effective communication with the health care team:
- Listen. Also bring a friend or family member to take notes, so the patient can focus on the conversation and review the notes later as a reminder.
- Ask the doctors or nurses for explanations of medical terms in simple language. There's no need to be embarrassed about not understanding. It's important to understand the information. The team members will be glad to explain it.
- Repeat what the care provider says. Start with a phrase like "Did I hear you say..." and repeat what was heard.
- Write down instructions that doctors and nurses give.
- Ask questions about anything concerning the diagnosis and treatment. If that team member does not have the answer, he or she will find another team member who does.
- Feel free to voice any fears. The doctor may be able to clarify misconceptions.
- Discuss anything that has relieved symptoms or made them words.
- Find out who and where to call for questions that come up after the appointment.
For some helpful sample questions, visit What Should I Ask?.