Doctor's order to be a good patient

FRESNO, Calif.

Dr. Harold Federman has been in practice for more than 40 years and believes a long-term relationship with patients is important.

"The more you have a constant relationship with a person, the better your health care will be."

The importance of a long-term relationship is echoed by many of the 660 primary-care doctors surveyed by Consumer Reports National Research Center. The findings reveal "What doctors wish their patients knew."

"What we learned, your doctor may not tell you directly. But it can really improve medical care," Nancy Metcalf said.

The top complaint from doctors about their patients? 37 percent of the doctors said not following advice affected their ability to provide optimal care a lot.

"Ask as much as you want to about the treatment, and be sure to follow instructions. But if the treatment isn't working or you're having side effects, before you do anything else, call your doctor."

Most doctors also said it helped for patients to keep a file of their health records. But in a separate survey of Consumer Reports subscribers, only 25 percent of patients said they actually kept track of their medical history.

When it comes to patients researching medical conditions online, there was another big divide - 61 percent of patients thought online research was helpful, but only eight percent of doctors agreed.

"If you want to research health on the Internet, be smart about it. Avoid sites that are sponsored by advertisers or that are trying to guide you to a specific product or treatment."

To get more accurate health information, go to reliable sites like the Centers for Disease Control, rather than just searching Google.

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