Your doctor is one of the most important members of your epilepsy care team. But physicians are very busy people, and building a relationship during short appointments can be tough. Patients can sometimes feel unheard and rushed. Coming prepared and advocating for yourself during your visit will help you get the attention you deserve.
Use the handy acronym DOCTOR to prepare for appointments and make the most of your visit.
Document your medical information
Keep a journal of your seizures, triggers or any side effects to share with your doctor each visit. Generally, the more you can document, the better. And bring copies of exisiting documents too: health history and any recent test results, like lab work, X-rays or MRIs. Don’t forget your insurance information. Finally, find out if there are any forms you can complete prior to your appointment.
Order your questions
Write down all of your questions before you go to your appointment. Then prioritize them in order of importance. Let your doctor know you have a list of questions and that if you can’t address all of them in your time together, you’d like to schedule a follow-up appointment.
Come with a caregiver
There is a lot of information to digest during an appointment. Bring a friend or family member to help take notes and make sure important information is shared and recorded. If they have witnessed one of your seizures, they will be able to provide the doctor with important details.
Tell the truth
Remember that your conversation is private and privileged, and it’s important to share everything that may affect your healthcare. Let your doctor know if you drink, smoke, use drugs, or have missed or skipped medication. If your doctor isn’t meeting your needs, be sure to address your concerns.
Outline and participate in your treatment plan
Do you know what the next steps are in your care? If not, ask your doctor to outline his or her treatment plan for you. Between visits, stick to your medication schedule and treatment plan, then report back. You can also find out if the office has electronic health records you can access to help manage your healthcare.
Review what you’ve discussed
Before you leave your physician’s office, make sure you are clear on all the information you’ve received. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. If you want to do more research on your own, ask your doctor to point you to materials or reputable websites to access more information.
Written exclusively for EpilepsyAdvocate.com.