Ways to advocate for yourself at a doctor’s appointment
There are a number of ways to advocate for yourself when navigating healthcare systems. This can involve asking questions, making sure you are equipped with knowledge of the care or treatment you should be receiving, and even just knowing what you can ask for.
It is useful to prepare for an appointment with your healthcare professional to make sure you talk about your needs and make the most of your appointment time. Some preparation tips include to:
- Write down any questions, concerns, or topics you want to discuss ahead of time. This can include your symptoms, including how long and how often you experience them.
- Have key information about your family history ready.
- Where applicable, do some research about the available treatments or medications you could be prescribed.
- Bring something to take notes.
Your list of questions can include any number of things you would like to discuss, but some useful questions to ask can include:
- What could be causing my symptoms?
- What testing would you recommend and why?
- What medications or treatments are used for this condition, and what are the side effects?
- What other medical, alternative, or mental health professionals should I consider?
- What lifestyle changes and holistic approaches might benefit me?
Another tip to advocate for yourself at a doctors appointment is to record the appointment, either by audio or video. This can help you remember what is said during the appointment. If you are comfortable to do so, always check with the health professional for their consent to record the appointment or consultation (it is useful to record this consent as well). In Queensland, you don’t need permission to record your appointment with a doctor, nurse or other health professional if the recording is for your own use. In other states, it can be an offence if you don’t get permission first. If you want to share the recording with beyond your family or close friends, getting permission from the person/s in the recording is necessary because this can be against the law.
This information is not professional advice, and you should always check your local laws to find our what you are allowed to do in terms of recording health and medical appointments.