What should patients do if they have a hard time understanding medical information from their physician?

Dr. Ordway discusses how patients can make sure they understand their physicians. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.


If you don’t understand or feel confused about a diagnosis, medications or your overall health and healthcare, it’s important to feel comfortable talking to your doctor, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

If you frequently have a hard time understanding your doctor’s explanations about your healthcare, be ready to ask questions while you’re at your visit, HHS.

It’s best to consider yourself in a healthcare partnership with your physician. The more comfortable you feel with sharing information about how you feel and asking questions when you have them, the better your physician can team with you to provide the best possible care, according to the HHS.

To help you understand the information your doctor shares with you about your health, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) recommends:

  • Ask questions – If there’s something you don’t understand, your doctor or nurse is there to try to answer your questions for you. Asking questions isn’t always easy for everyone, but it’s an important part of your healthcare to get the information you need to take care of yourself better.
  • Repeat the information – As your doctor goes through each step of your care – including follow up visits, medication use and purpose, or a diagnosis – repeat each piece of information back. By repeating what you understood the information to be, your doctor can either confirm that you are correct or help you better understand what he or she meant.
  • Have another adult with you – Having a second set of ears can sometimes be very helpful. Sometimes, visits with your physician can leave you with a lot of information to take in, especially if there is a new diagnosis. Take a reliable family member or friend who you trust to help you remember and understand your healthcare information.

Talk to your physician if you feel you don’t understand all the aspects of your healthcare and work on a plan for how you can be more involved and have a better understanding in the future.

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