Without an accurate diagnosis your parent may be treated for the wrong problem or go entirely without treatment. Stay calm and use these guidelines to verify the diagnosis.
- Ask the physician to write down the exact name of your parent’s diagnosis.
- Ask the physician what tests he or she performed to confirm the diagnosis. Get the names of any specialists involved in treatment or diagnosis.
- Pay particular attention to illnesses appearing in more then one generation or one member of your family.
- Ask your parent’s pharmacist for a print-out of your parent’s drug history for the last six months to a year. Make several copies of the print-out. Your parent will have to request this unless you have a completed HIPPA form giving you access to the information.
- Show the pharmacy print-out to the physician and ask if the diagnosis was made with complete knowledge of your drug history.
- Ask the physician for a copy of your parent’s medical file, including test films (X-ray, MRI). You may have to wait a few days before the file is ready. Some doctors charge a small fee for reproducing these records.
- Ask trusted friends, colleagues, advisors and illness-specific resources in your or your or your parent’s community (such as the American Heart Assn., The Parkinson’s Assn., or the Alzheimer’s Assn.) for referrals to a Board Certified specialist in the diagnosed illness.
- Make an appointment for a second opinion. It’s critical to choose a physician who is Board Certified in the specific illness or Board Certified in geriatrics.
- Make sure the physician giving the second opinion has a copy of all your parent’s medical records, including your family history and the pharmacy report you obtained. Take all your parent’s medications to the appointment in their original containers.
- Read and print Questions to Ask Your Parent’s Doctor and What to Do with the Answers
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