A woman whose son is being treated for schizophrenia is keeping a journal of all her son’s treatment. She notes the drugs, the dosages, and when they are changed. She also records the doctor’s comments. I hope she’s also recording her son’s reactions to each drug.
Doctors keep charts on patients. Why shouldn’t the patient do the same? Most patients trust their doctors—or at least they start out trusting them—and would not be inclined to keep notes, but it doesn’t have to be a matter of distrust. Does the doctor keep notes because s/he distrusts the patient, or simply because s/he needs to know what’s been done and how the patient responded, and doesn’t trust to memory?
Likewise, the patient should keep a record of the doctor’s actions and the patient’s reactions. If the patient can’t do it, then it would be an excellent idea for a friend or relative to do it.
The practice of psychiatry is an imprecise and messy business and it helps if you have a record of what’s been done and said. For example, the woman who is journaling, i.e., keeping a chart on the doctor, reports that the doctor has said that Ativan is not addictive. That’s grounds for filing a complaint against the doctor’s license. If the doctor doesn’t know that the drug is addictive, then the doctor needs supervision, or to be sent back to school for re-education.
My psychiatrist did not know the signs and symptoms of lithium toxicity even though she was prescribing the drug. I now live with an indwelling catheter because she was an incompetent physician. I should have kept notes and filed a complaint against her license so that other patients would be protected.
Chart on your doctor—what’s good for the goose is good for the gander—and it will help your self-esteem. And if you ever need to sue the doctor, he will have medical records to defend himself. What will you have?