We, at Morris I. Franco Community Cancer Center, have but one objective: To help you through your medical journey as smoothly as possible. We have created this workbook for you in an effort to offer a helping hand and perhaps some degree of control during this trying and often overwhelming time. We hope you find this workbook to be a useful organizational tool and a helpful guide as you navigate through your road to recovery.
|7. Medical History|
Communicating with your health care team can often feel intimidating. As such, one may tend to shut down and live with troubling questions unanswered. This behavior often leads to further uncertainty, confusion, and exacerbated anxiety.
Open communication can lead you to a better understanding of your condition, thus empowering you by giving you a greater sense of control over your circumstances.
Improving communication with your health care team:
Become a well-educated consumer. As a patient, it is important to remember that you are a consumer of health care. The best way to begin making difficult decisions about health care is to educate yourself.
Have someone accompany you to your appointment. It is helpful to have someone there with you for support as well as a second set of ears.
Use your "Questions to Ask Your Doctor" reference sheet. This way, you won't forget to ask about something that was important to you. Remember that your doctor has limited time, so try to be specific and brief. Also remember to ask your most important questions first.
Record your doctor's answers onto the question page. You cannot expect to retain everything your doctor says. Taking notes will help you remember your doctor's responses and instructions. It also allows you to go over the information later when you have more time to concentrate or do research.
If possible, tape-record your visits. Ask your doctor if you can record your conversation. Taping your visit gives you a chance to hear specific information again or share it with family members or friends.
How to Talk With Your Doctor:
Use "I" statements. Say "I don't understand" instead of "You are being unclear." This allows your doctor to hear you in a more communicative voice.
Be assertive. If your doctor says something you do not understand, tell him…but remember to keep it as specific and brief as possible. If your doctor's time is limited, ask if there is another more appropriate time for the two of you to talk in more detail.
If something is unclear, try repeating it back to your doctor, or ask again some other way. It may help to ask for pictures, charts, or other reading materials.
We are providing you with the following reference sheet so that you may have a designated place to organize all of your important contacts.
> In this section, we have included two sets of questions:
> Please review these questions PRIOR to contacting your doctor.
> It is a good idea to write your own personal notes on these sheets.
> Enough space has been provided for you to note your doctor's responses.
> Also included is extra note paper for your convenience.
> Use these sheets to record all additional doctor visits and relevant notes.
These monthly calendars will prove to be invaluable tools as they will allow you to view an entire month's treatment plan at one glance.
This section is provided so that you may keep all of your medical records, including Test Results and Medical Reports, together in one place. Doctors often request such information; therefore it will be quite useful to have these on hand when you are meeting with your doctors.
Why keeping copies of important records are important:
The easiest way to get your records:
Retrieving past treatment records:
To learn about local laws regarding your rights to your own medical records, you may call the Health Privacy Project at (202) 687-0880 or visit their website at www.healthprivacy.org and click on "State Law."
Insurance plans have become more and more complicated and certainly more difficult to fully comprehend. With PPO's, EPO's, and HMO's, understanding exactly what you are covered for can get quite confusing.
It is important to familiarize yourself with your individual coverage by contacting your insurance company and by asking questions
Make sure to have the enclosed forms in front of you when you are on the phone with your insurance company! Keep a photocopy of your insurance card (front and back) in this section!
We have included this section to help answer some of these questions and address some potential fears…..
-How to complain, internally and externally
-Advanced DirectivesVisitor Accommodations
-Specific accommodations for religious reasons
Ask what medications and doses you are being given and why
When they come to wheel you out of your room for some test, ask them where they are taking you and why, and write down that information so that you may later follow up if necessary
Ask for the titles of those who approach you and keep track of who's who (see list of hospital personnel below)
Write down people's names (doctors, nurses, social workers, etc)
-Collect business cards of those who visit, and keep these in your personal card holder
Things to Pack for Your Hospital Stay:
- Insurance Card
-List of current medications (and dosage)
-Comfortable pajamas (loose-fitting is best)
-Socks and slippers
-Comfortable clothing and shoes to wear home (something loose-fitting)
- Eyeglasses (you might want to leave contacts at home)
-Tooth brush and tooth paste
-Feminine hygiene products Your own pillow (if you choose) Entertainment Material-
-Portable DVD player Cell phone and charger
Do not depend on supplies provided by hospital staff
Be sure to leave jewelry, credit cards, and any other valuables at home
(Be sure you understand the benefits and risks before you sign over your consent)
Familiarizing yourself with what to expect upon entering a hospital may help to reduce the stress of an upcoming surgical procedure. The following points were highlighted in an effort to educate and therefore lessen the uneasiness sometimes caused by an anticipated surgery date.