Helpful Hints to Communicate Better
"As a patient, you must become the most empowered and most knowledgeable person about your disease because you are in charge of your decisions about treatment. No one has a greater stake in your health than you do.” - Edward T. Creagan, MD, Mayo Clinic
Before your appointment
Go through the sample questions and mark the ones that you’d like to have answers to. More info about the sample questions.
You may want family members or the Patient Navigator to help you select the questions to ask
- You and your trusted friend/Navigator may want to practice saying the questions before you get to the clinic
- Keep a pad of paper with you at all times and write down any question that comes to mind.
- Bring a tape record or record the session on your phone if possible so that you can review the healthcare team's explanations later.
- You can talk with your Patient Navigator about asking these questions.
- There are no dumb questions except for the ones you don’t ask.re are no dumb questions except for the ones you don’t ask.
During your appointment
- Bring someone with you who you trust
- This person is going to hear some very private information about your diagnosis / treatment / recovery.
- Bring a list of questions that you and your family want to know or understand better.
- If you cannot say the words that are in the question, during your appointment, you can point to the question and show the provider what you are trying to ask
- Bring a tape recorder so that the conversation can be listened to later again.
- Remember that you can ask the nurse as well as the doctor
- Most providers would like you to tell them about problems that concern you.
- It is easier to treat a problem when it begins rather than later when it gets worse
- Many times the providers dont really know how much you already know or how much you want to know.
- Make certain you understand those terms before you leave the office.
- The provider or your family friend can write the terms down and what they mean
Healthcare Translation Services
- You can request that a medically trained translator be provided by the hospital / clinic during your appointments.
- By law, such services are to be provided by the healthcare setting
- In reality, it is unlikely that there are trained translators who speak your Native language
- Other hospital/clinic employees who are not trained as translators should not be asked to translate for you.
- Your family members should not be asked to translate for you.
Why shouldn’t your family serve as the translators?
- They are dealing with their own feelings and may want to protect you from hearing all of the information.
- They are unlikely to translate all of the technical language being used.
- Their interpretation of the information may not be correct.
These suggestions were modified from Edward Creagan, MD and Sandra Wendel (www.curetoday.com) Edward T. Creagan, MD. Mayo Clinic. Cure Spring 2003, page 11