Planning Your Doctor Visit
How well you and your doctor talk and listen to each other is one of the most important parts of getting good healthcare. A good patient-doctor relationship is a partnership. You and your doctor can work as a team. Create a basic plan before you go to the doctor. This can help you make the most of your visit.
List Your Symptoms
Talking about your health or that of your loved one means sharing information about how you feel. Sometimes it can be hard to remember everything that is bothering you during your doctor visit. Making a list of your symptoms before your visit will help you not forget to tell the doctor anything. Be specific. Symptoms can be physical, such as pain, fever, a lump or bump, unexplained weight gain or loss, change in energy level, or difficulty sleeping.
If your loved one talks to you about all the aches and pains but when they see the Dr. their comment is that all is fine, can be frustrating. You can head this off by calling the Dr.’s office prior to your loved one’s visit and provide that information to his nurse or medical assistant. Or you can bring a note to the office and give it to the staff for the Dr. to read prior to the exam with your loved one.
Your list should include:
- What are your symptoms
- When did they start
- What time of day do they occur and how long does it last
- How often do they happen
- Anything that makes them worse or better
- Anything they prevent you from doing
Being honest about what is bothering you does not mean you are complaining. It is your symptoms that point the doctor in the right direction.
List Your Medications
Your doctor needs to know about ALL the medications you take. Medications include prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbal remedies or supplements, herbal teas, laxatives, and eye drops. Make sure you list medication dosage, how often you take it, when you do not take it and why. Medications that are prescribed by all of your doctors especially changes in medications or dosages. It is also important to advise your doctor if a medication has a side effect that is causing you a problem.
Not just medication allergies but include food allergies, metals, latex and other sensitivities that you are aware of.
Contact and Insurance Information
Bring your insurance cards, names and phone numbers of your other doctors, and the name, address and phone number of the pharmacy you use. Also, inform your Doctor if your insurance has a mail out pharmacy. Also, bring any medical records from other doctors. Your physician may not have received them from the other office.
Habits and Life Changes
To provide the best care, your doctor must understand you as a person and know what your life is like. Let your doctor know if you use any assistive devices. Anything that assists you to see, hear, stand, reach, balance, grasp items, go up or down stairs, and move around. This may include but not limited to canes, walkers, scooters, hearing aids, reach
er, grab bars and stair lifts. Let your doctor know if there are any life style changes. For example, moving to new residence, change in driving, eating, sleeping, daily activities and/or interests. Also what your sex life is like, and if you smoke or drink alcohol.
Your list should include divorce or death in the family. You do not need to go into detail. Also, tell your doctor if you had to go the emergency room, hospital or specialist, since your last visit.