- Question from Maleisha: Would it help to let the doctor's office know when I'm making my appointment that I have a lot of questions to have covered? So they can book more time?
- Answers - Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. It would probably be more realistic for you to prioritize your questions. Remember all those times you waited for your doctor and s/he was running late? S/he was probably answering another patient's questions. S/he doesn't want to answer questions in a superficial a way that won't be helpful. Perhaps you can pick your most important questions and leave some of the others for other visits.
Marisa Weiss, M.D.
As you prioritize your questions, pick the ones that are most appropriate for that particular doctor. For example, ask your medical oncologist questions about chemotherapy and hormonal therapy. If you have a question about the best way to evaluate lymph nodes, ask your surgeon.. If you want to know how long it will take to recover after breast reconstruction, bring this up with your plastic surgeon.
Once you've put your tailored list together, then it's fine to call the office ahead of time and let them know you have some questions to sort out. You may even want to fax your list of questions to the doctor's office prior to your visit. This can be particularly helpful if one of your questions is about a pending test. That way, the office staff will know to make sure they have all test results back in your chart by the time you come in.
- Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. I have patients who e-mail or send me a list of questions about a week before their visit. This gives me enough time to look over the questions and think about them as I prepare for that patient's visit. I've even had my staff do literature searches for patients who have unusual or challenging questions.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. If your doctor is having a particularly busy day, you might find that you can't get to all the questions on your list. Just make sure all the critical questions are answered, and then come up with a plan to get the rest of your questions addressed. One thing that is quite helpful is to consolidate all the questions you and your family members or other people who are authorized to get involved in your care may have. This will help you all to avoid asking the doctor the same thing more than once through different people.
- Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. I'd like to add that sites like breastcancer.org can answer many of your more general questions. Then, take your additional questions to your appointment after starting your research on breastcancer.org or other reliable web sites.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called The Doctor-Patient Relationship featured Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about how to find the right doctor for you, and how to create and maintain a good, open relationship with your doctor so you can be sure to get all the care and information you need.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in February 2003.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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