How to Keep Track of What Your Doctor Tells You


Using This Simple Technique Will Empower You

A meeting with a doctor whether in an office, hospital room or ER can be overwhelming for many reasons: stress, anxiety, limited time and medical jargon. That makes it difficult to understand and keep track of what you’re being told. So I use a simple technique to help me keep track of and understand of what is said to me:  the voice recording feature on my smart phone (iPhone). Before recording, I always ask for permission. Then I record.

After I return home, it is a great feeling not having to try to recall what was said to me. So when I feel ready (in some cases I have waited for a couple of days), I go to my office (which is in a quiet and well lit location), open a document in MS Word and then begin to play back the recording. I take notes as I listen, pausing or rewinding whenever needed.

I find myself amazed by how much I am unable to remember! After I’ve made all my notes, I’m left with a more complete and clear picture of what was said and in what context. I find this to be very valuable and reassuring.

Next I print out the Word notes and file them in a binder. I use the notes to prepare questions for follow-up appointments. They also provide a valuable version of the “doctor’s notes” history.

So far I have only encountered one medical professional (a nurse practitioner) who refused to be recorded. I like to think that if I was able to show her how I use the recordings and how valuable they are, that she would change her mind. But fortunately she is the only exception.

The bottom line is that this simple technique is empowering and makes me better prepared to be an active stakeholder in my medical team!

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1 Response

  1. JoannieO says:

    As a newly retired RN after 45+ years of working, I find that you need to question your doctor’s treatment. Maybe it is because I’m from the medical profession, but I’ve avoided costly PT (physical therapy) treatments ($40/copay Medicare) + opted for a cortisone injection into my L foot instead, for tarsal tunnel syndrome and researching websites online for the PT exercises. Certain treatments may be necessary and certain ones certainly need to be questioned. Do your research. Thank you.

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