How to Talk With Your Doc

Written by Karen Fowler

Recently, a very good friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. During the Covid -19 restrictions, communication with her medical team became even more of a challenge. From testing delays to video-chats, it seemed more difficult for everyone to be on the same page. And it felt like she was the only person worried about how long everything was taking. She sometimes felt more confused when she was able to talk to her doctors, than when she began the conversation. But here’s the thing – it is HER RIGHT to understand! And, if you are in a similar situation – it is yours too:

“… the patient has the right and is encouraged to obtain from physicians and other direct caregivers relevant, current and understandable information concerning diagnosis, treatment and prognosis… to discuss and request information related to specific procedures and/or treatments, the risks involved, the possible length of recuperation, and the medically reasonable alternatives and their accompanying risks and benefits,… [and] to make decisions about the plan of care prior to and during the course of treatment.”

Good healthcare begins with good communication – as challenging as that may be in today’s world. Here are some helpful suggestions:

  1. Make a list of your concerns – write them down so you can stay focused. Track symptoms or other concerns.  And… this is important – be thorough and honest; the details are critical.
  2. Speak up. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s perfectly ok to ask for clarification in simpler terms or to ask them to explain it again… Repeat the information back to your doctor – a technique called teach-back, which lets your doctor know if you really understand.
  3. It is so easy to get rattled! Take some deep breaths and focus on what the doctor is saying. Consider having someone with you for support, or to catch things that might otherwise be missed. If your doctor is restricting others from attending visits, ask them if having your support person on speakerphone is possible during the appointment.
  4. Don’t minimize the symptoms or situation. Remarks like “it’s just a little cough” or “my mother being up all night really isn’t a problem,” might lead your doctor to the same conclusion. Accurate information leads to accurate diagnosis and solutions.


Please know, if you are facing serious medical decisions, we at Home Hospice and Home Nursing have dedicated medical professionals available to help you navigate that journey. Immediate help is available – either by phone (432) 580-9990 or visit us on-line at Sometimes it helps just to know what questions to ask. We’re honored to be here.