Regardless of the problem, it’s important for you to find a solution because medical miscommunication can hurt your health. Our blog is here to assist you to structure your thoughts and guide you when sitting down with our cardiologists.
1. Can I prepare for my visit?
Researchers at Ohio State University (Credit: Donald J. Cegala, Professor of Communication and Family Medicine, Ohio State University) developed the PACE Guide Sheet to give you an easy way to organize your feelings, questions and concerns before your visit.
PACE stands for:
- P = Provide information about how you feel.
- A = Ask questions if you don’t have enough information.
- C = Clarify what you hear.
- E = Express any concerns you may have.
A handy tool that can be used to write down your experienced symptoms and structure your thoughts.
P = Provide information about how you feel.
Use these questions to help you describe your symptoms and concerns:
How you feel
- Do you have pain (such as chest pain)? If so, where?
- Is the pain constant, or does it come and go?
- Is it a sharp pain, a dull ache, tightness, pressure or a burning feeling?
- When and how often did you notice it? For example, does it happen before or after eating, when you get up in the morning, when you are resting or after physical activity?
- How long does it last — a few seconds or a few minutes?
- Does the symptom get worse when you’re active? If so, what activities make it worse?
What you do for your symptoms
· Do you take medicine to make you feel better? What medicing? When and how do you take the medicine?
- Does the medicine help?
- Do you use other treatments to help you, such as vitamins, herbs, dietary supplements, over-the-counter medicines, physical therapy, acupuncture or other treatments?
- Does avoiding certain things, such as specific activities, foods or medicines, help this condition? If so, what are the things that help?
- Have you seen another doctor about this condition? If so, how was your condition treated?
· Do you think your symptoms might be affected by problems, worries or stress? (If so, explain this to your doctor.)
A = Ask questions if you don’t have enough information.
Always think about your questions before you see the doctor. Write your questions on your PACE sheet or a note card so you don’t forget them. If you have more than three questions, put them down in order of importance so you do not skip them.
Use these sample questions to think about more information you’d like to know about your condition, medicines, tests and other treatments.
Sample questions about your condition
- What is coronary artery disease (CAD) and why do I have it?
- How bad is my CAD? Will I recover? Remain the same? Get worse?
- Will the disease affect my normal activities? If so, how?
- How long will I need to follow the treatments for this condition?
- How will I know if my CAD is getting worse?
- Are there programs or support groups to help me take care of and cope with my condition?
Sample questions about tests or procedures (such as ECG or angiogram)
- What is the purpose of this test or procedure? What will it tell us about my condition?
- Are there any risks in doing this test or procedure?
- What does the test involve? For example:
- Is the test painful?
- How long does it take?
- Will I be awake or asleep?
- Do I need to bring someone with me?
- Is the test covered by insurance?
Sample questions about medicines
- Why do I need to take the medicine? What does it do?
- What side effects should I watch for and report to my doctor?
- Do you have any samples I can try?
- Is there a generic form of the medicine?
- Will I feel better when I take this medicine? How long until I feel better?
- How should I take the medicine, and what should I do if I miss a dose?
- How long will I need to take the medicine?
Sample questions about other treatments (such as dietary changes and physical activity)
- What do I need to do?
- How often?
- How long will I need the treatment?
- When will I see results?
- Does the treatment have any risks?
C = Clarify what you hear.
When you talk to your healthcare providers, you may hear things that are hard to understand. Or you may get mixed up because you hear so many things. Even if you think you know what the doctor, nurse, pharmacist or other professional is telling you, it’s a good idea to clarify what you hear.
When you clarify what you hear, you can:
- Ask the professional to explain.
- Repeat the professional’s instructions.
- Review what you heard.
Try these phrases:
- “I don’t understand. Can you say that again, using different or simpler words?”
- “Can you clarify?”
- “Could you please repeat that last part?”
- “What does that word mean?”
- “Please spell that word for me.”
Repeat the Professional’s Instructions
Healthcare professionals give a lot of instructions, such as when to take your medicines, what to watch out for and how to take care of yourself. These instructions are important. To be sure you understand them, repeat the instructions back, using your own words, and ask the professional if your understanding is correct.
Try these phrases:
- “I think you’re telling me that…”
- “Am I correct that you want me to…”
- “Before my next visit, I will…”
- “You want me to call you if…”
Review What You Heard
At the end of a phone call or office visit, review what you’ve heard. Repeat the things on which you and your professional agreed. If you think you might forget something, write it down (or ask the professional to write it down for you). If you feel overwhelmed you may bring someone with you to assist you with remembering information gathered during the consultation.
E = Express any concerns you may have.
You may have concerns about your condition and treatments, including procedures, tests, medicines, dietary changes and physical activity recommendations. It’s very important to speak up and talk to your healthcare professionals about your concerns. Make sure you understand why the doctor is prescribing a certain treatment and how it will help your condition. You’ll find it easier to follow a treatment plan when you know how important it is to your health.
You can make your condition worse if you don’t follow your healthcare team’s instructions. If you can’t follow your treatment plan, be honest and talk with your doctor about it. He or she may be able to recommend another treatment that will meet your needs better. For example, if one of your medicines has unpleasant side effects, don’t just stop taking it. Tell your doctor about the problem and ask if there’s another medicine that will help your condition without the side effect.
It’s up to you to carry out the professionals’ advice to make yourself healthier.
2. The German Heart Centre way
Our team of doctors and nurses are all well experienced healthcare professionals with many years of hands-on patient care. We are committed to providing a safe and comfortable environment for everyone at our clinic so that patients feel relaxed enough to express concerns, symptoms, questions or fears. Why not reach out and book your next consultation?