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Isn’t it also common for patients to forget or misinterpret what their doctor has told them? Definitely. Taking notes can be helpful. And despite the time limitations, patients should always ask their doctor to repeat or clarify anything they don’t understand. I also recommend that at the end of the visit, patients take a moment to summarize what their doctor has told them. If the visit is for something that could result in a lot of emotion or anxiety, such as a diagnosis of cancer or a major treatment plan involving surgery, it can be a good idea to bring a family member or friend as a second set of ears. There is a tendency to tune out or have difficulty focusing once we hear news that is disturbing. What are your recommendations for proper communications after the appointment? It is best to schedule any follow-up visit at the time the patient is leaving the office so that everyone knows when it’s going to occur and it isn’t dropped. Patients should also know that they are entitled to the results of any tests that are ordered. They should never assume that no news is good news. If they don’t get results within a reasonable period of time, they should call the doctor’s office and pursue it. Finally, as part of UCLA Health’s new electronic-medical-record system, patients will be able to log on to a website to review events following the visit and to communicate with the physician. 5 Tips to Maximize Your Doctor Visit 1. y Write down any questions that you may have before ou visit with your doctor. 2. Bring a trusted friend or family member with you. 3. Communicate and collaborate respectfully with your doctor. 4. Listen carefully to what your doctor is saying. 5. Before leaving the office, make sure you are absolutely clear a bout all the information you received. we want to hear from YOU Share your tips for talking to your physician. What has worked best for you to get the most out of your visit? Post your comments at: Vital Signs Summer 2013 Vol. 59 9