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Communicating with your doctor


Having a good relationship with your health care provider will help you feel more confident with your care. It also leads to better care and outcomes.

The core of this relationship is good communication. You and your doctor must be able to easily share information, questions, and concerns.

There are many steps you and your doctor can take to help make sure you understand what your doctor is thinking and planning.

Keep your doctor informed

Tell your providers about any:

  • Symptoms you are having
  • Past treatments
  • Medicines, vitamins, or herbs you are taking

Do this even if your provider does not ask about it.

Remember, you know more about your symptoms and health history than anyone else. Your providers will depend on you to fill in the gaps. You are helping both yourself and your providers when you let them know about a symptom or problem.

When you see your provider, bring the following:

  • A list of all your medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking.
  • Include how often you take them and what dose.
  • If you can, bring the medicines with you.
  • Bring any medical reports or actual x-rays, if your provider does not know about them.
  • If you have a long history of medical or surgical treatment, make a list including dates you were treated and go over it with your doctor.

Keeping yourself informed

Make sure that you understand all the information and advice from your providers.

Both your surgeon and the hospital likely perform many knee replacements every year. But for you, having this surgery is an important event. So you deserve to have all of your questions answered.

Before you see your doctor, think about your symptoms, problems, or questions. Write them down.

Here are some tips for when you see your providers:

  • If your providers use too many difficult words or are talking too fast, stop them and tell them that you do not understand.
  • Ask your doctor to draw or show you pictures about what will happen.
  • Write down notes or bring somebody along to take notes for you.
  • If you need more time, but your doctor must go, ask if there's someone else you can talk to more, such as a nurse or physician's assistant.
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Review Date: 8/9/2018

Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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