Remedies When Problems Occur

If you are having problems communicating with your doctor or other health care team members, you can help make things better in several ways:

Be open with your doctor
Tell your doctor what you feel the communication problem is and ask how you can work together to solve it. It could be that your doctor doesn’t realize there’s a problem. Even some of the best doctors don’t communicate effectively with patients.
Ask yourself if you’re part of the problem
Faults of others are easy to spot, while our own are not. Ask your doctor or the office nurse how you can improve the communication process.
Put it in writing
If it’s hard for you to tell your doctor face to face that there’s a communication problem, write out the details, then give it to your doctor, or mail it. Or ask a nurse to give it to the doctor. Be as tactful—yet open—as possible. Try to put yourself in your doctor’s place: how would you react if you received the same written note?
Explain your communication problem
Try explaining your situation to an oncology nurse, social worker, or patient advocate. They may be able to suggest ways to solve the problem or provide help.
Talk with other cancer patients you know
See how they’ve handled these kinds of problems with their doctors.
Ask your family doctor to help
He or she may be able to give you advice or work out a solution with your cancer specialist.
Contact a hospital official
If a serious communication problem occurs while in the hospital, you may want to ask a hospital administrator to help you.
As a last resort, consider changing doctors
If you’ve tried all of your other options to improve communication and it’s a major problem to you, consider whether you want to continue working with the doctor on a long-term basis. Above all, don’t feel guilty or hesitant about changing doctors if that is what is right for you.

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