Understand Your Doctors and Other Caregivers

What can you do if you don’t understand what your caregiver is saying?
Tell them you don’t understand. Use body language. If you don’t understand, shake your head to show that “No, I don’t understand.” Ask lots of questions. By asking questions you are helping them understand what you need.

What can you do if they explain and you still don’t understand?
Tell them you still don’t understand. Try to be as clear as possible about what you do not understand. Caregivers have a duty to help you understand what to do and what is happening to you.

What if the caregiver is rushed and doesn’t have time to answer your questions?
Ask them to come back later in the day when they have time to answer your questions.

What can you do if you speak another language?
Ask for someone who speaks your language. EMMC provides interpreter services free of charge 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

What can you do if you do not understand your healthcare provider’s accent?
Tell them that you don’t understand and ask them to repeat what they have told you. Ask your nurse to be with you when your provider makes rounds so that he/she can help you understand what your provider has said.   

What can you do if you have trouble reading? Or you cannot read?
Don’t be embarrassed. Tell your caregivers. They can help you. They can explain paper work to you. 

Your provider’s instructions are not clear.  Should you try to figure it out yourself?
 Instructions from your provider are important. Tell them what you think the instructions are. Tell them if they need to write down the instructions.  Tell them if you have a family member or friend who helps you take your medicine. Ask the provider to have someone talk to your family member or friend too. 

What can you do if you don’t understand the instructions for your medicine?
Tell your provider if you need help. Tell them what you think the instructions are. Tell them if you don’t understand how to take your medicine. Tell them if you don’t understand when to take your medicine. Some patients don’t understand and take too much or too little medicine. That can be dangerous.

How can you remember all of your medications?
Ask for a list of your medications. Ask for the amount you are to take and when you need to take them. Bring this list with you every time you go to the doctor or come to the hospital.

The doctor says I need to have a “procedure”.  What does that mean?
A procedure can be an operation or a treatment. A procedure can be a test with special equipment. You might be put to sleep or a part of your body might be numbed. Ask questions about what will be done to you. 

What is informed consent?
Informed consent means that you know how your illness or condition will be treated. It means that you agree to the operation or treatment. It means that you understand the risks. That you know about other treatments available to you. And that you know what can happen if you aren’t treated. You will be asked to sign paper work after you agree to the treatment. You need to decide if you will sign or not sign the paper work only after you understand all that was explained to you.

You don’t understand the paper work you are given to fill out.  What can you do?
Ask caregivers to explain the paper work. Ask them if they can help you fill it out.

Your caregiver asked you to do something that is against your culture or religion.  What can you do?
Tell your caregiver about your culture. Or tell them about your religious beliefs. Explain to them what you need to do. When they know what is important to you, they can understand better how to take care of you. There may be a way to meet your caregiver’s needs and your needs.

Where can you find more information about your illness or condition?
You can ask another doctor for their opinion. You can ask your nurse for written information about your illness or condition. Visit your local library or the medical library here at EMMC. Ask the people who work at the library for help. 

If you use a computer, you can look on the Internet. You can try the Medical Library Association or Medline Plus. You should talk to your provider about what you learn.