Developing a Good Doctor-Patient Relationship

Establish a Relationship

Here are some other suggestions to help you establish a good working relationship with your doctor:

Prepare for each visit. Ask yourself what you want to get out of each consultation. It's helpful to jot down your concerns between visits and make a concise list of questions to bring to your next appointment. Take notes on what your doctor says because it's easy to forget her answers once you get home.

Don't withhold information. "Communication is a two-way street," says Dr. Thornton. It's crucial to tell your doctor everything she needs to know. Some patients are embarrassed to talk about their bad habits, such as smoking, "but this information can be vital to making decisions about your health," says Dr. Thornton.

Get your husband involved. Ideally, your partner should meet your obstetrician long before you're in labor so they will have time to get acquainted, says Dr. Levine.

Speak up. Don't hesitate to tell your doctor that you're dissatisfied and give him the opportunity to correct the problem, advises Dr. Egener. For example, you could say, "I have some concerns about why you're suggesting this approach." Be candid about what's troubling you-but not accusatory. "Sometimes the strongest relationships evolve when people have a heart-to-heart conversation," says Dr. Egener.

That's what happened with Laura Goyer. She chose two doctors in the group practice as her primary and backup physicians and made extra efforts to communicate with them. She also gave all of the doctors in the group copies of her birth plan, which specified, for example, that she didn't want to receive any drugs unless absolutely necessary. By the time she delivered, Goyer had confidence in her doctors' abilities, and she was pleased with the way they had handled her medical care and the birth of her son, Michael, last September. "If I ever have another child, I'll definitely trust them," she says.

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