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New Practice Hotline: 818-398-9572

Sunday, October 28, 2007

How to be a Better Patient


Here are a few suggestions for how to get the best health care from your doctor that you possibly can:

1) Know your medical history and what medications you take.

Some patients have no knowledge of what medications they are taking, what their medical history is, or what medical procedures they've had.

Yes your information may be "in the chart", but sometimes that chart isn't readily available. You may have another doctor prescribing medications, and you may not be taking the medicines listed in the chart. For example, if your blood pressure is high it's important for me to know that the rheumatologist started you on prednisone two weeks ago, or that your primary care doctor stopped your lisinopril because of that pesky cough.

Also, it is very helpful to carry a current list of all of your medications and doses.

2) Describe your symptoms in simple terms.

We learn in medical school that 90% of medical diagnosis is taken from the history that we are given by the patient. The best descriptions are the simplest: "I have crushing chest pain that started two hours ago and radiated to my left arm." "I have angina" is not a description of your pain. As a doctor, I need to know your exact symptoms.

You do not need to describe to me the workup you've had since walking into the clinic or hospital. "My blood pressure is high and they did an EKG and drew blood from me" is not the information I want. I know this already. Tell me what symptoms brought you here.

3) Take your medicines as prescribed. This is especially true with hypertension (high blood pressure).

Blood pressure medications are not to be taken on an as-needed basis. You need them every day. Some patients tell me that they can "feel" when their blood pressure is high -- this is not true. That's why hypertension is called The Silent Killer.

If you have any doubts as to whether you should take a medication, ask me. I'd be glad to explain the benefits of the medications that I've prescribed you.

4) If you do not speak English well, please allow me to use a translator to converse with you. That way, we will understand each other better, I will know what your concerns are, and you will understand what your plan of care is.

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