Should I sit in on my dad's medical appointments to make sure he discusses all issues he's having?

1 answer | Last updated: Dec 10, 2012
Cindy in roseville, mn asked...

Should I sit in on my dad's doctor appointments? Should I call ahead to prime the doctor with topics that he might not bring up? Oftentimes we will find out that Dad did not ask about something we felt was important, because he thought that the doctor would somehow be able to notice what was wrong. I suspect that Dad, like our middle son, has Asperger's Syndrome (high functioning), and he can be pretty passive. It can be pretty frustrating at times. On one hand I've got to respect Dad for being the adult that he is, but on the other hand, if there's a serious issue that needs to be addressed, and he doesn't address the issue with the doctor, what do we do?

Expert Answers

It's great that you want to make sure your dad's doctor is getting all the information he needs. Have you tried asking your dad directly if he minds you sitting in on his appointments? This would be the best approach. You can explain to your dad that you'll give him the privacy he needs, but want to be there as "back up," just in case he forgets to tell the doctor something, or forgets what the doctor tells him. Legally, the doctor must honor your dad's wishes in terms of who attends appointments and who has access to his medical information. This is private information between a patient and his doctor. But your dad can give his doctor permission to share his medical information with you. This is done all the time within families. And your dad can take whom he chooses to his medical appointments. If you emphasize to your dad that your interest is in helping him get the best medical care he can, he may actually appreciate your involvement. We have a "discussion" group going on a similar topic, which you might find helpful.