Posted: Apr 17, 2012 7:16 PM
 
Your doctor wants to help you. And there are things that you can do to help your doctor help you. Being prepared and learning how to open up to your doctor will help you make the most of every visit.

Do your part

Preparing for a doctor’s visit begins when you schedule the appointment. Medical practice administrator Rick Danzey encourages patients to be very clear about why they need to see the doctor. If you are not specific, your appointment may be scheduled for insufficient time, which can lead to delays for patients following you.

Let the receptionist know whether or not you’re seeing the doctor about more than one issue so you can be scheduled for a longer appointment. "Every doctor I have worked with will provide all the time you need for your appointment," says Danzey.

Be prepared for the visit

Before heading to your appointment, prepare yourself:

    • Dress appropriately in clothes that make it easy to have your blood pressure taken, have blood drawn or show the doctor the area on your body that you’re concerned about.
      With a little bit of preparedness and cooperation, you won’t come away from a doctor's appointment feeling disappointed in the care you received.
    • "Bring your insurance card and a means to pay for your co-payment," says Danzey.
    • Bring a list of your current medications, the dosages and the times they’re taken. Include prescriptions, OTC meds, supplements, vitamins and herbs. Also bring the phone number of your pharmacy.
    • Bring specimens or lab results the doctor has requested.
    • Bring a list of prior and current medical conditions (e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes, allergies) along with a list of previous surgeries and procedures.
    • Leave early enough to allow time for traffic and delays so you can be on time for your appointment.

Cooperate in the examination room

"This is the time to be open about the reason for your appointment so your doctor can begin to assess your condition," says Danzey. Write down what you want to know about your condition, available treatment options, treatment timing and similar questions.

And be ready to answer your health professional’s questions:

    • Where on your body is it hurting?
    • How long does the pain last?
    • Describe the pain: aching? Stabbing? Burning?
    • Does anything – certain foods or sitting a particular way – make the pain worse?
    • Is there anything that alleviates the symptoms?

If you fear you may forget something, consider bringing along an advocate (a friend, spouse, or parent) who can help you keep track of what to tell the doctor as well as what he or she tells you.

With a little bit of preparedness and cooperation, you won’t come away from a doctor's appointment feeling disappointed in the care you received.

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