Talking to Your Doctor

One of the most important relationships you’ll have is with your doctor.
A smiling Black doctor is taking notes while talking with his senior female patient.

It’s not just about listening to what you’re told. You need to ask the right questions — and ask again if you don’t get the answers you need.

Take part in decisions about your treatment, follow the treatment plan you and your doctor agree on, watch for problems and become actively involved in solving them to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. If you need help finding a doctor, check out these helpful tips.

Remember: Open communication builds trust. If you feel like it’s not happening, get a second opinion. Don’t be shy — keep asking.

Make the Most of Your Medical Visit

Headed to the doctor for a checkup? It’s easy to get overwhelmed and tongue-tied. Preparing for medical visits can help you feel more in control of your health.

Consider putting together a list of things you may want to discuss during your visit, such as:

  • Symptoms you may be experiencing
  • How you are feeling
  • Questions about your medications, what is working, what is not
  • Questions about your upcoming tests or test results
  • Concerns or worries about your health

Be honest. Some of the things you may want to discuss will be personal. But remember that your doctor is there to help.

Sometimes, it is beneficial to bring a family member or friend with you. They can support you on the topics you want to discuss with your doctor, take notes or help you remember what was discussed.

Getting a Second Opinion

When your doctor recommends a medication or procedure, whether for an underlying condition or not, you almost certainly have questions and concerns — or even fears.

All these reactions are normal. But it doesn’t mean you need to accept everything you just heard. Your next step should be to get a second opinion.

Most physicians encourage second and even third opinions, especially when it involves an operation such as AFib ablation or spasticity treatment.

Why seek another opinion?

Perhaps you’re not feeling confident about your doctor’s decisions. Maybe you’re feeling rushed.

Other reasons to get a second opinion include:

  • Your insurance company may require it before covering your treatment.
  • You may have options — including not needing the medicine or procedure, or one being less expensive than another.
  • You are concerned about the risk or how it might affect your lifestyle, family or work.
How do I seek a second opinion?

Start with your doctor for a recommendation.

For second or third doctors or specialists, you can also:

  • Ask family or friends who have been treated with the same condition.
  • Get a list of approved doctors from your insurance company or your employer’s health plan administrator.
  • Contact your local medical society.
  • Look in the American Medical Directory, the Directory of American Specialists or other professional directories at your local library.
What do I do to seek a second opinion?

Before you visit a second doctor, have your records forwarded to him or her. Better yet, get a full set and bring them with you.

Also, be sure to come with specific questions. You should also bring a pad and pen to write down important things and consider having someone else to sit and listen (and not talk).

When you’re done, ask the second doctor to send his notes to you and your doctor.

And if the opinions differ …

Go with the best assessment.

A good rule of thumb: Does the plan of your doctor or the second doctor make the most sense, involve the least risk and focus on the medical issues that are most important to you?