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Communication…the Essentials

By William R. Leahy, M.D.

(Page 5 of 5)

Always gather your information and write notes before calling the doctor or nurse. Plan what you will say in advance; writing notes is a good way to help you remember. If you have to leave a message, make it brief, complete and clear. If someone will call you back, keep the notes by the phone or in your pocket so you can easily find them. Write your observations, when you first noticed them, and any supporting details such as the presence of fever. Always be prepared to give the patient’s name, date of birth, Social Security number and insurance information.
These strategies for phone calls may also be used for visits to the office of professionals.
Communication at all levels is essential for the continued physical and emotional well-being of a loved one, and serves as a key bridge between the patient and the healthcare team. All caregivers should consider the importance of communication and reflect upon strategies to develop the art and science of communication.


Washington, DC neurologist William Leahy, MD, is the author of Caregiving at Home, and Providing Home Care: A Textbook for Home Care Aides. An Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institution, he has devoted his book royalties to a project teaching high school students heath care careers. He has been honored as "Washingtonian of the Year."


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