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Have your ever left a doctor’s office and ask yourself, “ What the heck did that doc just say?” If so, you’re not alone, says researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center. In fact, it’s common for patients to forget half of what they’ve been told during a medical visit, according to Jordan Silberman, lead author of the study. Poor recall makes it unlikely the patient is going to comply, He Says, because if the patient can’t remember what he or she is supposed to do, it makes it highly that he or she is going to do it.

However, doctors play a part in their patients’ poor recall. In the stud, only about one-third of the physicians wrote down instructions for their patients. About half of the physicians repeated their recommendations, but some repeated only about 10 percent of the information the patients needed. Very few of the doctors asked the patients to repeat the information back to them, a technique that has been recognized as one of the best ways to make sure that patients recall medical advice. The results of the study were originally published in the journal of General Internal Medicine.

What can you do to make sure you remember what you’re supposed to do? Take a notebook and title it “ Medical Instructions,” write down what your doctor tells you, and before you leave read it back to your doctor. Ask him or her if you’ve got it right, and if there’s anything you’ve left out.

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