V. Securing Information From Your Doctor That You Will Require Later
At some point – even if you do not change doctors before or during treatment – you may find yourself in the office of a new doctor involved in the treatment or management of your disease. It is important that you be able to give your new doctor the exact details of your diagnosis and treatment. The following checklist will aid in the sharing of your information with the new doctor and it is recommended that you always keep copies for yourself:
- A copy of the pathology report from any biopsy or surgery
- If you have had surgery, a copy of the surgical report
- If you have been admitted to hospital, a copy of the discharge summary that every doctor must prepare when patients are sent home
- If you have had radiation therapy, a final summary of the dose and field
- Since some drugs can have long terms side effects, a list of all your drugs, drug doses, and when you took them (including over-the-counter drugs)
You may ask your treating doctor’s office staff for copies of your records. Kindly bear in mind that doctors may relocate, depart on vacation, or close their offices due to holidays. Hence, asking for your records as soon as they are generated is advisable. If the treatment or test took place in a hospital, you may need to contact the hospital’s medical records department to determine how to go about securing your records. This information should be kept with you for life, since all future doctors’ visits will be requiring the information.
Remember that you have the right to a second opinion about your diagnosis and the recommended treatment plan. Asking for a second opinion does not imply that you do not like or trust your doctor. Doctors understand you need to feel that every possibility for the best treatment has been explored. You may also ask your doctor if they have consulted with other specialists at their treatment center for additional recommendations in respect of your disease.