Friday, October 31, 2008

Getting the Most From Your Doctor

Dr. Edna Arteaga-Hernandez

(LOMA LINDA, Calif.) “We want you to be assertive when it comes to your health issues. I want to know about you like you want to know about me. We need to be partners.”

Dr. Edna Arteaga-Hernandez, president and CEO of the Inland Empire’s Arther Medical Corporation, gave this message during a workshop of the Inland Empire Disability Resources EXPO held Thursday Oct. 23rd at the Loma Linda University Medical Center Drayson Center.

Doctors need to know each patient’s health issues, Dr. Arteaga-Hernandez explained. This includes not just what medical conditions, but also issues such as whom they live with, whether they are employed and what medications they’re already taking.

A primary care doctor is important, she said.

“You should have one doctor who knows you best,” she said. “That doctor will coordinate your health care. Your primary care doctor will be your advocate, kind of like a lawyer.”

Primary care doctors or their staff should handle obtaining referrals to specialists when needed. They also should be making sure that any special medical needs a patient has are being accommodated. For instance, if a patient has diabetes and needs a certain type of blood sugar monitor, the doctor should be fighting to make sure the patients’ insurance approves this.

The intake form patients fill out when they first see a new doctor is important, she said. It allows patients to confidentially describe their past medical history, so the doctor doesn’t have to waste time asking the same questions.

Also helpful are medical records from a prior doctor and keeping a medical diary.

A medical diary is a small notebook in which patients start by listing surgeries and other serious medical issues they’ve had in the past. Later, they can add to the diary when they receive immunizations or face other health issues.

Patients should also keep a diary of what medications they take, Dr. Arteaga-Hernandez said. This is especially true if patients are experiencing unpleasant side effects like nausea or drowsiness.

“Medications help you, but there are very few that don’t have side effects,” she said. “What we want to do is minimize these.”

Since there are so many medications available, good communication between doctor and patient about these side effects will almost always help them find drugs that best overcome the effects and make the patient feel better.

“You have to tell your doctor, ‘I can’t take this. It keeps me up all night.’” Dr. Arteaga-Hernandez said. “Eventually, we will find wonders. Your medications should help you to live a long life, but also a good one.”

Dr. Arteaga-Hernandez’s presentation was one of many exhibits and workshops designed especially for those suffering from various disabilities. Other topics addressed include housing, transportation, advocacy, employment and technology to assist with daily living and education.

Over four consecutive years she has received the coveted Polaris Award of Excellence in Public Relations Community Service for her radio talk show, “Cita con su Medici.” Additionally, Arteaga-Hernandez has aided students in various medical departments at Loma Linda’s School of Medicine and at Western University of Health Sciences.

For more information about Dr. Arteaga-Hernandez and other community doctors, call LaSalle Medical Associates at (909) 890-0407.

Dr. Arteaga-Hernandez is a member of the LaSalle Medical Associates, Inc. Independent Physicians Association. (IPA.)