Think of your medical appointments as any other important professional consultation. When you go to your accountant’s office during tax season, you go prepared, with a clear objective and the understanding that you are paying for their time, knowledge and experience. So why go to your doctor less prepared?
Take some time, a few days before your appointment, and write down the information that will help facilitate your visit and help ensure you get the most out of your appointment.
1. List of Your Symptoms
Think of your ‘symptoms’ as anything that is out of the ordinary for your body. They may seem minor and unrelated, but your doctor may think differently. Include the severity of your symptoms, the frequency of occurrence and how long you have been experiencing them. This is especially important if you are visiting your doctor for a specific problem, but is equally important if you are going for a simply yearly physical.
2. List of Your Medications
Make of list of every drug you take, including over-the-counter medications and vitamins. Include the dosage and how often you take them. Don’t just assume that your doctor has them on file. If you are like many Americans you have more than one doctor – Family Doctor, OBGYN, Orthopedic, Cardiologist, Dentist, Ophthalmology, Dermatologist, etc. It is important that your doctor have an overall picture of your health to provide you with the best possible care.
3. List of Questions
If you are like most people, you will forget the vast majority of your questions the moment you arrive. Even a yearly physical is daunting enough without adding the extra pressure of remembering a laundry list of questions. Write down all of your questions as you think of them in the days and weeks leading up to your appointment. Include any reminders such as prescription refills. Check them off as you and your doctor cover them.
4. Pen and Paper
Take notes! Jot down follow-up appointments, information, side effects or terms to research. You may think you will remember that eight syllable Latin word, but you will forget it by the time you reach the parking lot. If you are technology savvy, bring your Ipad or smart phone along and record the information.
5. Personal and Family History
Did your Mom have breast cancer? Did your Dad have heart disease? Did you break your ankle ten years ago? This may be more important for a new doctor than one you have been seeing for years. However, if a question as to your personal or family medical history comes up, it is much easier to scan a list than trying to remember fifty years worth of medical history.