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Dos and Don'ts for Effective Communication with Your Doctor

by Edward Leigh, Patient Communications Expert
August 12, 2011

Question: Sometimes the doctors and nurses say everything so quickly. I often do not understand what they are saying. How do I politely ask them to slow down?


First of all, DO NOT angrily say something like this statement, “Slow down! Stop talking so fast!”  We want to enhance the relationship not damage it.  Yes, healthcare professionals are under time constraints, but that does not excuse them from quick explanations that may not be easily understood by patients.  Catch the issue early. As soon as you see they are talking quickly, politely ask, “I want to be sure I completely understand everything that is going on and I would like to take some notes. I would appreciate if you speak somewhat slower so I completely understand the treatment. Thank you for understanding.”

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Edward Leigh, MA, focuses on helping patients and healthcare professionals effectively communicate with each other. Excellent communication skills dramatically enhance patient satisfaction and safety. He presents high-energy and informative programs for hospitals, healthcare associations, medical practices, government organizations and universities. He is also an in-demand consultant and coach. He has a master’s degree in health education.

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