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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 understand.

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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