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Building Effective Partnerships: Should I Record My Medical Team Conversations?

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Published on August 14, 2018

Communication is key in any relationship and working well with your healthcare team is critical to developing a treatment plan that’s right for you and meeting your needs as a cancer patient. How can doctors and patients foster an effective partnership? Is it okay for patients to record medical team conversations? Advanced practice nurse, Kristen Carter, from The UAMS Myeloma Institute, shares tips for patients looking to enhance the dialogue with their healthcare team. How can people arrive prepared and feel accomplished after a doctor’s visit? Dr. Amrita Krishnan, from City of Hope, and Dr. Joshua Richter, from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, discuss ways to avoid miscommunication, increase understanding and learn about myeloma treatment options and symptom management.

This is a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power. We thank AbbVie, Inc., Celgene Corporation, and Takeda Oncology for their support.

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Transcript | Building Effective Partnerships: Should I Record My Medical Team Conversations?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Jack Aiello:

Kristen Carter, so I have a question targeted for nurses, I think, and that is as a patient how do I communicate or partner best with my doctor on treatment decisions?  What do you find that works regarding being diagnosed with something called myeloma, which you've probably never heard of, hearing all of these overwhelming terms of IgG and too high a level of protein, which sounded always good to me, how do you—how should patients be interfacing with both their doctors and their nurses?  

Having a family member that's right there with you, that maybe they're thinking of things that you haven't really thought to ask.  As we're going over side effects and treatment decisions, taking notes is very important because I always have patients, and I will have patients four or five years later, go, remind me, what is my subtype.  And we go over this every time and you go, I thought we were doing a really good job of educating.  So if you don't understand something ask to repeat the information.  And I always repeated back to the patients and have them repeat it back to me.  That way I can see if they really understand what we've gone over.  

And just make sure there's an open dialogue.  I always tell my patients don't suffer in silence.  If you have a side effect we need to know about it.  If there's something you don't understand we need to know because that way we can ensure that you're not only understanding but getting appropriate treatment, and if there's side effects that we need to know that we can make adjustments.  

Kristen Carter: 

Having a list I think is a really good way to slow down.  

And again I do provide an e?mail or a cell phone, and I have patients that will email me a list of questions that I can turn around and answer for them if they didn't get the information.  So I think definitely having a list, having family support if it's available to come with you, I think that does kind of slow the doctor down.   

And if you don't understand something you just stop the doctor before they leave the room.  Hey, I didn't understand that.  You are your own patient advocate, and you've got to make sure that you speak up if there's something you don't understand or if there's something you're not sure about.  Or if there's something you're not comfortable with in the treatment planning you need to vocalize that with your doctor or nurse.  

I think the other important thing to remember is all the information we get, especially when we talk about transplant, that's not going to be the first time you hear it, so don't—it's not like you need to understand it all right now.  This is just information gathering, and that information is going to be repeated again and again by multiple different people.  

I think it's also—as much as the care teams set goals for each appointment it oftentimes can be a good idea for patients to set goals of what they want to get out of the appointment. So not every appointment is going to be soup to nuts, everything from the diagnosis to the whole treatment, but this appointment, what is going to be my next step with treatment and how do I deal with my toxicity.  This next appointment I want to find out about transplants.  So setting a couple of discrete goals I think really helps both sides to accomplish what we need to.  

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.