The Patient's Responsibilities
1. DISCLOSE ALL INFORMATION RELATING TO YOUR ILLNESS TO THE
DOCTOR. If you withhold information, the doctor can't be expected
to make an accurate diagnosis and begin proper treatment. Not
telling him everything could even result in potentially dangerous
therapy or tests. The information you give the doctor should be
confidential and should not be used for any purpose other than to
provide for your treatment.
2. KEEP OFFICE APPOINTMENTS OR CANCEL WELL IN ADVANCE. Just as
it's unfair for your doctor not to keep his appointments promptly,
it's unfair for you to be late or to just not show up. If you're
going to be late, please call ahead and let them know. If you need
to cancel, please try to do so 24 hours in advance so that someone
else will be able to make an appointment in your place.
3. PLAN YOUR VISIT WITH THE DOCTOR. Think about and write down
any questions you may have in advance so that you can refer to them
during your visit. Think about your symptoms carefully, so that you
can give informed answers to the doctor's questions.
4. STOP THE DOCTOR WHEN YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT HE IS
EXPLAINING AND ASK FOR A SIMPLER EXPLANATION. The doctor won't know
you don't understand unless you tell him. He won't think you're
stupid if you ask him for clarification, and will probably
appreciate the fact that you want to be informed about your health.
Doctors are used to thinking in obscure medical terms, and tend to
forget that not everyone knows what they are talking about. It's
okay to slow him down and get the information in terms you
5. ASK QUESTIONS. This is both a right and a responsibility. You
need to ask the questions you want answers to. The doctor can't
read your mind.
6. FOLLOW THE DOCTOR'S ADVICE AND REPORT QUICKLY ANY ADVERSE
EFFECTS OF THERAPY, COMPLICATIONS FROM TESTS, OR WORSENING
SYMPTOMS. If you aren't going to follow the doctor's advice, why
are you seeing him in the first place? If you disagree with the
treatment suggested, you should discuss this with the doctor,
rather than just going home and not following his advice. If there
are problems with the treatment, the doctor needs to be informed so
that changes can be made.
7. LIMIT PHONE CALLS BETWEEN VISITS TO PROBLEMS WITH ADVERSE
EFFECTS OF THERAPY, COMPLICATONS, OR WORSENING SYMPTOMS, OR OTHER
MATTERS WHICH YOU HAVE AGREED ON IN ADVANCE. It's important to keep
the doctor informed of problems with your treatment. It's also
important not to "bug" him. Often doctors will wait several hours
to return nonemergency calls so as not to interrupt ward rounds,
patient visits, and so on. Don't be too impatient if the secretary
has taken a message; the doctor will get it and return your call.
If the doctor does *not* return your call at all, then you have
every right to be upset about it and need to discuss your concerns
about this with them.
8. PAY AGREED-UPON CHARGES PROMPTLY OR IN A WAY MUTUALLY
ACCEPTABLE TO BOTH PARTIES. Just as you are obtaining a service
from your doctor, he has the right to expect payment from you or
your insurance company. Make arrangements for payment before your
visit. If your response to treatment is less than you expected, or
if you are not "cured", it should not be taken out on the doctor by
not paying him.
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