Communicating well with your doctor is key to a good doctor patient relationship. Even more importantly, it may also play a role in better outcomes for the patient. A recent study on the patient-doctor relationship was conducted by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), along with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The research indicated that those who were able to spend more time with their physician reported fewer acid reflux symptoms.
If you have acid reflux here are a few tips to help you to get the most out of your doctor appointments:
Ensure you will have enough time with your physician.
Many doctors schedule blocks of time based on what kind of appointment you may have. For example, a “recheck” may not take as much time as an appointment for a new patient. Whether you’re a new patient or not - if you have a lot of questions, let the person scheduling the appointment know to allow for more time.
Write down your questions before your appointment.
Let your physician know that you have a list of questions so they are aware there are things you need cleared up. Leave yourself space on the sheet to jot down the answers to reference during the conversation. You may think that you will be able to remember everything afterwards but, trust me, it’s harder to do than you think.
Develop a timeline with your physician.
A timeline is basically a guideline for how long to proceed with the current treatment before trying something else or contacting the physician. For example, your physician may want you to try an increased dose of your PPI medication to get your symptoms under control. You need to be aware of how long it takes for the medication change to work, what to do if you don’t see any change (or things get worse), and at what point to contact your physician.
Determine the best way to contact your physician.
Before you leave your office visit be sure to discuss the best way to keep in touch between appointments. It is especially important to know if there are any special after hours or weekend numbers to reach a physician, as well as when you should go to the ER.
Don’t be afraid to find a new doctor.
Remember that your health is what is most important. So, if you just can’t communicate well with your doctor despite your best efforts, don’t be afraid to look for a new physician.
For more tips on communicating with your doctor check out the UCSF Medical Center’s patient education material or the Mayo Clinic Blog.
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Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in dietetics as well as graduate work in public health and nutrition.She has worked with families dealing with digestive disease, asthma and food allergies for the past 12 years.Jennifer also serves the Board of Directors for Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER).