Fairfield County Integrative Family Medicine, Trumbull, CT
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  Home » Newsletter » How to Get the Most out of Your Next Doctor’s Visit, March 2013
 

How to Get the Most out of Your Next Doctor’s Visit

How to Get the Most out of Your Next Doctor’s VisitEvery minute counts during an appointment with your doctor. Doctors have many patients they need to attend to, so every minute you spend with your doctor should be spent wisely. Remember you and your doctor are a team that needs to work together to ensure the best results for your health. You can make sure you get the best possible care by being an active member of your health care team. Being involved means you are prepared and ready to ask questions. The following are ways you can prepare before your appointment so that you and your doctor can have a beneficial visit.

If this is your first visit with a new doctor, your doctor will need to learn your complete medical history. Arrange to have a copy of all your medical records sent before your visit, so your doctor can have time to review them. Your doctor will need to know past and present illnesses and the treatment you received and/or are receiving. Your doctor will also need to know if you’ve had any surgeries (invasive and minimally invasive); if you’ve ever been hospitalized (for what condition, how long, etc.); and what diseases run in your family so your doctor can be aware of any hereditary conditions that may affect you. Be sure to include how old relatives were when they were diagnosed. For example, if your mother was diagnosed with a hereditary disease at the age of 30, your doctor may want to screen you for that disease at an early age.

Prioritize. Take some time to think about the purpose of the visit. Does it relate to new symptoms that are unusual or to a routine annual physical exam? Make a list of the concerns you need to discuss and then prioritize them by importance. Discuss the more urgent problems first.

Medications. Bring a current list of all medications you are taking including herbal supplements, vitamins and over-the-counter drugs. Be sure to include the exact doses of everything you’re taking and how often you take them. Let the doctor know about medications you’re allergic to, or if any medications give you side effects.

Keep a symptom diary. You may think you’ll be able to remember everything you want to tell your doctor, but don’t rely on memory alone. Chances are, by the time you get to see the doctor you will have forgotten some of what you wanted to tell the doctor, so write down what you’re experiencing. Be specific. When did your symptoms begin? How often do they happen? If you’re in pain how bad is it on a scale of 1 to 10? Does it get worse at certain times of the day? Note your daily living habits (eating, drinking, exercise, smoking, and sleeping), as well as any recent lifestyle changes.

Questions. Before the appointment, write down a list of concerns or questions, starting with the most urgent you must get answered. If you’re confused or need clarification about something, writing it down helps you keep track of what needs to be discussed. If your doctor diagnoses you with a condition or discusses treatment options, ask for reading materials or pamphlets you can take home to read for additional information.

While you’re at your appointment, don’t be embarrassed to say “I don’t understand,” or “can you go over that with me one more time?” Make sure you understand your condition and your treatment options before you leave the office. Also, always remember the importance of communicating openly and honestly with your doctor. You should never feel ashamed or be afraid to disclose private or sometimes embarrassing information. Your doctor is a professional and chances are they’ve seen it all. Keeping information from your doctor could have grave consequences including a misdiagnoses, missed diagnosis, or improper treatment.

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