Assessing the Care You Receive
Always remember you have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. You are the most important expert about yourself. Any professional should encourage you to tell them what your problems are and what it is you think you need from them.
In trying to figure out if you are pleased with the care you are receiving from a doctor or other kind of therapist it is important for you to use your own judgment and common sense or instinct in deciding for yourself if you are pleased. It is okay to evaluate how you think you are being treated by a professional. You may want to ask to yourself:
Is this professional understanding me and being helpful to me?
In trying to determine helpfulness by your doctor or therapist, the following questions may help you or your family evaluate what kind of care you are receiving.
Prior to your visit with the professional
Take a list of questions with you that you want to have answered by the professional.
If possible, and if you feel comfortable, arrange to take a trustworthy family member or friend with you to your appointment.
During your visit
Either yourself or the person accompanying you may want to write down the instructions the professional gives you. Make sure you understand what the doctor is saying to you and what he or she wants you to do.
- Consider whether the professional is listening to you. Are you encouraged to tell him/her what your problems are?
- Does she/he talk to you in a manner that helps you feel comfortable?
- Does he/she explain what they think is going on with you and what might be the best treatment for your problem?
- Are you permitted to ask additional questions about the recommended treatment?
- If the doctor wants you to take medicine, does she/he explain how the medicines work and what benefits the medicine may have?
- Are side effects of medications explained to you?
- Does the doctor suggest or discuss any different kind of treatments that are available or other things you can do yourself that might help you?
- Are any pitfalls of treatment or medications explained to you?
- Does he/she give you choices about what can be done to help you with your problem?
- Is your doctor available by telephone and are you made to feel comfortable to call the doctor by telephone?
- Are your questions encouraged and are they answered in a way that satisfies you?
- If a referral to another doctor, clinic, hospital or agency is made, is there any help offered to you in following through with the referral?
- Do you feel comfortable asking your doctor to have a second opinion about your treatment?
Other important issues to consider
If you have more than one doctor, make sure they all know what is happening to you.
Try to have one doctor be in charge or know about all of the treatments and medications you are receiving.
Always ask any specialist to notify your family doctor about what problems they diagnosed and the treatment they are recommending to you.
Some drugs interact with other drugs and may be harmful when used together, therefore, each doctor should have a list of all your medications. Utilizing only one pharmacist is also helpful to you since a pharmacist also lets you know if a new medication will be potentially harmful if used with your current list of medications.
We would like to thank Marc Zisselman M.D. of the Philadelphia Geriatric Center for his help in developing these guidelines.