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How to be well prepared for your consult in the hospital

A good conversation with your physician in the hospital is very important. Decisions are made based on this conversation that have a direct impact on your health. In previous articles, we discussed why it is so important to share in the decision making when it comes to medical choices that affect you. Conversations with your doctor are essential for this. In order to get the most out of these conversations, it is critical that you are well-prepared. In this article we offer a number of tips to help you.


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Before the consultation

1. Before you meet with your physician, write down what you’d like to discuss with him or her and what questions you might have.

Take your notes with you to the appointment so you won’t forget what you’d like to discuss. It can sometimes be difficult to ask the right questions. A good guidline can be found on this Dutch website ( 1) What are my options? 2) What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option? 3) What does that mean for me? Along with these 3 basic questions, you’ll likely have more. Always ask them and don’t be afraid to ask a “dumb question” because these do not exist, especially when it comes to talking about your health.

2. Take a family member or trusted friend with you.

This can be especially handy as two sets of ears are better than one. And the chance is less that you’ll forget things the doctor tells or asks you. This person can also help you with asking the questions you have written down beforehand. It can also be helpful to have the extra support of a trusted person during what can be a tense and emotional appointment. Is it not possible for your supporter to be physically present during the appointment? Ask your doctor if they can call in to the meeting so he or she can listen along with you.

3. Prepare for questions that the doctor might ask.

Write down, for example, why you are visiting the doctor, if that is not already known, what your complaints are, how long you’ve had these complaints and how they have progressed.
Also write down what medicine you are taking, what side effects you have experienced, what medical devices do you use to support your health and any other pertinent information. Are there other things your doctor should know about you to be able to provide good care? Like your prior experiences in the hospital, your religious beliefs, or perhaps your fear of needles? Don’t be shy! This information is very important for the doctor to have a complete picture of your situation.

During the consultation

4. Take notes.

During the conversation with your doctor you will probably get lots of information to process. By writing down the answers to your questions and other important information you may hear, you can go over everything again when you get home and avoid forgetting things.

5. Be open and honest.

During your consultation, it is important to let your doctor know if there is anything you don’t completely understand, have doubts about or are particularly concerned about. This helps your doctor serve you better. Due to tension or emotions, a consultation can sometimes turn out differently than you would have liked. Do you still have doubts or concerns after your consultation? That is perfectly normal. Feel free to contact your doctor or hospital in order to get the information or support you need.

6. At the end of the appointment, summarize what you have learned in your own words.

In this way you check whether you have understood what your doctor has explained and help avoid miscommunication.

Do you need more support during the course of your treatment ? The Hikos medical specialists are happy to help.

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