Talking with your doctor
It's important to see your healthcare provider regularly. They will be checking your overall health, and, if you are on treatment, taking blood tests to see how your medicine is working and how well you are doing.
Your medical healthcare providers include your doctors, nurses, pharmacists and dentist. Other non-Western medicine healthcare professionals such as naturopaths and herbalists may want to know about your Hep C so they don't give you therapies that are harmful to your liver.
Your relationship with your healthcare provider
Putting time into developing a better relationship with your healthcare providers can prove to be worthwhile. A good relationship with the healthcare team can help them understand your situation and how you are dealing with your health concerns; in turn, they can better care for your health.
Rights and Responsibilities
Your rights as a patient
As a patient or someone seeking medical services, you have the right to:
- expect the healthcare provider to meet his or her responsibilities
- receive safe and proper care
- have health problems and treatments explained clearly
- participate in healthcare decisions
- ask questions and express concerns
- request a second opinion
- have information be kept confidential
- request access to health records
- be treated professionally, politely and respectfully
- express the emotions associated with poor health, including fear, depression, anxiety and anger
- bring an advocate, friend or family member to the appointment
Your responsibilities as a patient
You also have responsibilities that will help the healthcare team provide better care:
- report symptoms, facts and experiences about your illness accurately
- follow the agreed-upon treatment plan, and let your healthcare provider know if you didn't stick to it and what problems you had
- go to all appointments on time, or reschedule with as much notice as you ca give to the healthcare provider
- treat the healthcare provider respectfully and courteously
- avoid taking emotions out on the healthcare provider
- know as much about your medical history as possible
- understand that your healthcare provider has other patients that need healthcare too and she/he needs to balance time spent with everyone. You can help by being on time for appointments and have your questions prepared.
Finding a healthcare provider
Everyone has the right to healthcare but it can be hard for some people to find a doctor. If you're having trouble getting a doctor to help you with your Hep C, talk to a worker you trust from a place like your local community health centre, harm reduction program, drop-in centre or other community program. Ask him or her to help you find the healthcare provider you need and deserve. Most provinces and territories also have websites and phone lines to help you. They are:
|College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta - 780-488-2395 or 1-800-361-0607|
|College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia|
|The Family Doctor Connection - 204-786-7111 or 1-800-690-8260|
|Patient Connect New Brunswick or call Tele-Care at 811|
Newfoundland and Labrador
|Department of Health and Community Services - 709-729-4984|
|Local Health & Social Services offices, health centres and medical clinics can help people find a doctor.|
|Physician Directory and Information Hotline - 902-424-3047|
|Contact your local community health nurse, public health nurse or doctor. If they are unable to provide the care you need, they can help connect you to someone who can. |
|College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario|
Health Care Connect – 1-800-445-1822
Prince Edward Island
|Patient Registry Program - 1-800-321-5492|
|Health and Social Services Centres (CSSS) can provide healthcare and help people find a family doctor.|
|Regional Health Authorities can provide information on doctors that are taking patients.|
|Yukon Medical Council - 1-867-393-6980|
How to prepare for your appointments with your healthcare provider
1. Make a list of changes and updates on your health
Making a list of any changes in your health will help you on your next visit to your healthcare provider. You may want to start a Treatment or Health Diary to keep track of what's been going on with your health. You can make a list of:
- new symptoms, side effects from medications or other discomforts and any visits to the emergency room
- medications you have been taking—including prescriptions, herbs, over-the-counter drugs such as vitamins and painkillers
- other major life changes in your diet, job or living situation that could change your health or ability to access to healthcare services.
2. Getting blood tests done
If you have been asked to get blood tests done, be sure to:
- have them done in good time so the results are ready by your next appointment
- follow instructions (for example, some blood tests need to be done at certain times and some require that you do them on an empty stomach).
Following instructions will ensure that your healthcare provider gets the right information from the blood test results.
3. Asking questions
It's a good idea to write down your questions before your appointment and bring them along. You can take notes during or right after your appointment. Here is a list of questions you can work with:
- What is the name of the medication and what does it do?
- When and how much of it should I take?
- Will it change the way my other medications work?
- Are there any possible side effects that I can expect? If so, how can I deal with them?
- When should I come in for my next appointment?
You might read information on the Internet or hear things from other people or from your support group—mention these to your healthcare provider. He or she can tell you what is safe and effective and make sure you get the best care.
4. Attending your appointment
Most healthcare providers have limited time for appointments, so try to make good use of the time you have. You can do this by:
- Arriving on time. There may be forms to fill out or other procedures that may need to be done before you can actually see your healthcare provider.
- Being respectful to the reception staff—they can help you by setting up appointments that suit you the best.
- Being patient if your healthcare provider is running late. Making a big fuss may only cause further delays and strain your relationship with the whole healthcare team.
- Asking questions when you don't understand and being involved in making decisions about your health.
- Taking time to recognize and thank the healthcare team if they are doing a good job.
- Taking a friend or family member with you if you like—sometimes it can be hard to remember everything the healthcare provider tells you.