Saturday, July 26, 2008

Patients and their medical records

I often ask my patients to prepare a one-page summary of their medical history. I provide them with a simple framework to help them structure this, so they do not forget anything important. Not only does this discipline allow them to make sense of their medical records , it also helps them to ask questions. It helps me to ensure that the records are complete; that important information has not been inadvertently omitted; and that patients have a sound understanding of their past treatment and future options.

For some patients, I even invite them to formulate a treatment plan and to write their own prescriptions - especially when they are doing a second IVF cycle . This allows me to confirm that they have understood what is happening to them - and if they make any errors, this is a teaching moment which I can use to clarify doubts and confusion.

It's quite sobering to find out that even though I think I have done a great job with explaining the treatment options, patients sometimes have a completely different take on their problem. By listening to their inputs, I learn how to do a better job of counselling and educating them.

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