Thursday, November 06, 2014
Doctor's Perspective
Share all of your medical history with your doctor

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Taking a history of a patient's illness is important. The history gives a lot of information that leads to what will need to be done and usually provides more useful information than the physical exam. However, there are often pieces of history that the patient does not give to the physician. That happens because we all have different ways of approaching illness. We sometimes forget that these things might be related to what is happening to us physically. Some of these things are obvious. They include medications that we might be taking and foods we might be eating. They also include things like cigarette use and sexual activity. Depending on the complaint, these might or might not be very relevant, therefore, the patient needs to tell the physician. However, there are many other pieces of history that affect the diagnosis. For example, some individuals might use herbal treatments for their illness. They think that because it is not medication, they do not need to tell the physician or they think that the physician will be upset with them if they say something. These remedies will sometimes interact with medications that the physician will prescribe so the patient needs to tell the physician. Another example is that there may be someone in the family with a medical background. They may have already come up with a diagnosis that they believe is the correct one so they tell the patient what to tell the doctor. This might lead to leaving out important information. Once the diagnosis is made, treatment needs to occur. There are again many things that a patient might not tell a physician which might affect the treatment. For example, the instructions might be written down. If a patient does not read very well, they might not be able to follow the instructions. The patient needs to tell the physician. Treatments might be prescribed. They might not be covered by the patient's insurance. For that reason the treatments are never used. The patient needs to tell the physician. The treatment might conflict with an individual's religious beliefs. They might need to fast for religious reasons. However, the physician might recommend that they need to be eating for their particular illness. This will cause a conflict. The patient needs to tell the physician. The treatment might conflict with an individual's dietary habits. The physician might prescribe a diet that is not consistent with their particular habits. The patient needs to tell the physician. The patient might not understand English very well. More commonly, the patient might not understand the medical terms that the physician uses to describe the treatment. The physician may not know this. The patient needs to tell the physician. There are many things that impact the way we obtain medical care. Physicians may ask the kinds of questions that will address those. However, there are so many factors that not all of the right questions may be asked. It is up to the patient to make sure that information is provided. The more the physician knows, the better care the patient will receive. If you have comments about this column or suggestions for other topics, send an email to Dr. Anthony Policastro at

Annual Early Black Friday Sale The Look-In Glass Shoppe at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will hold their Annual Early Black Friday Sale from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 7, in the hospital lobby. Shoppers will receive a mystery discount of up to 50% off holiday merchandise. All proceeds at the Look-In Glass Shoppe go to Nanticoke Health Services to support patient care services.

Stroke Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next Stroke Support Group meeting is Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 1:30 p.m. at the Seaford Library. The group is designed for individuals who have survived a stroke and their families and caregivers. The two-hour meetings consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and stroke survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support and allow for networking. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required for this free support group. For more information, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 8626.

Free flu shots for veterans In honor of Veterans Day and in appreciation of the service to our nation by the veterans of Delmarva, Peninsula Regional Medical Center will offer free flu shots to all veterans and their spouses.

The free flu shots will be offered Tuesday, Nov. 11 from 2 to 5 p.m., in the auditorium of the Avery W. Hall Educational Center located on the PRMC campus on the corner of Waverly Drive and Vine Street in Salisbury. Military ID/DD214 is required, but appointments are not necessary. Call 410-543-7766 for more information or directions.

Free women's heart screenings Peninsula Regional Medical Center's Guerrieri Heart & Vascular Institute will offer free Women's Heart Program screening assessments from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Nov. 11. The screening will be performed by Peninsula Regional medical professionals in Peninsula Regional's Ocean View Family Medicine office at 142 Atlantic Ave., Millville. Appointments are required. Women choosing to participate must not currently be under the care of a cardiologist or have a known history of heart disease. To learn more about the Women's Heart Program, qualification requirements or to set up an appointment, call 410-543-7026.

Grief and the holidays "Grief and Coping with the Holidays," will be presented by Delaware Hospice's Midge DiNatale, GC-C, bereavement counselor, on Wednesday, Nov. 26 from noon to 12:45 p.m. at the Ocean View CHEER Center. Participants will learn strategies to help cope with the universal challenges presented by the holiday season. Discussion will include topics such as:
  • anticipations and expectations of family and friends;
  • dealing with the multitude of emotions;
  • the impact of death on the entire family unit; dealing with special occasions;
  • honoring your loved one during the holidays;
  • and giving yourself permission to participate or not to take part in special events.
There is no fee for this presentation. For questions, contact Yolanda Gallego at or 302-539-2671.

'Boomers R Us' lecture "Boomers R Us: Characteristics and Challenges Unique to Baby Boomers" will be the topic of Delaware Hospice's Lunch Bunch Lecture on Friday, Nov. 7, with Dr. Judy Pierson, clinical psychologist. The Lunch Bunch Lecture will be held at the Delaware Hospice Center, Milford, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Born between the years 1946 to 1964, Baby Boomers make up almost 25% of the population. They control over 80% of personal financial assets and contribute to over 50% of consumer spending, which ensures they will remain a powerful force in our society. As they retire, they will start yet another sweeping social change. Approximately three million Baby Boomers will reach retirement every year for the next 20 years. Registration is required as seating capacity is limited, and the cost of lunch is $5 per person. Register by contacting Michele August at 856-7717 or 478-5707 or email

New Hope Program fundraiser Children and teens who have lost a loved one need special care. Delaware Hospice recognized that need and established its New Hope Program in 1990 for that purpose. On Saturday, Nov. 8, Xi Sigma Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi will hold a Chinese Auction fundraiser to benefit Delaware Hospice's New Hope Program. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the auction begins at 7, at Lewes Presbyterian Church, 133 Kings Hwy., Lewes. Admission is $15 per person, and additional envelopes can be purchased for $5. This event is restricted to adults over the age of 18. Call Dee at 302-231-8015 or Carol at 302-226-2908.

Grief Awareness Week During the month of November, the Delaware Grief Awareness Consortium encourages people to learn about grief, express their thoughts and feelings of loss, and to honor the memory of family and friends who have died by participating in events in their communities. Events scheduled during the 2014 Delaware Grief Awareness Week - Nov. 2-8 - and throughout the month of November provide many opportunities to learn and express feelings related to grief and loss in Delaware. Throughout November, local activities and events open to the public include presentations, workshops, memorial services, walks and even a children's art show. A complete list can be found at