Photo by: Vic (Flickr)
Arriving prepared assures a beneficial appointment for you and your doctor.
Even if you are the most dutiful of patients who schedules your physical like clockwork every year, you might not be getting the most out of your annual checkup. Your doctor and nurse are not the only ones who need to be prepared for your appointment - patients need to come to the appointment prepared too! So, you've got a doctor's appointment you say? Let me give you some tips on how to make it the most productive appointment you've ever had!
Even if you are going to your regular doctor, make sure you arrive early just in case there is paperwork to fill out. If you are seeing this doctor for the first time, there will definitely be paperwork. When setting up your appointment, ask the receptionist how much time you should allot ahead of your scheduled time and what documentation you must bring with you.
Document Your Concerns
Document any health issues prior to walking into the medical facility. This will help you remember everything you plan to discuss with your doctor, and it will help your doctor address all of your concerns. Be sure to document any changes in your health, the related symptoms, any behaviors that exacerbate the symptoms, and the time of day they are most prevalent.
Document Your Meds
Write down all of your prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter) medications you take as well as any vitamins, minerals, and homeopathic remedies. Do this even if the doctor you are seeing is the one who prescribed the meds. Include how often you take your medications, supplements, and remedies and the dosage amounts of each one.
Document Your Tests
Write out all medical tests and procedures you have had over the last few years. Depending on where you had the test or procedure done, the information might not be in your file. Handing your doctor a list of tests, procedures, and results expedites the review portion of your physical and gives both of you more time to talk about the critical stuff weighing heavily on your mind.
Document Your Family History
Many illnesses have genetic links that are passed on from generation to generation. Your doctor needs to know your family's medical history - particularly that of your parents and grandparents - in order to understand the health risks you might be facing. Document any medical conditions common to your family and let your doctor know of any new findings over the past year.
Accompany Senior Patients
Help senior patients document all of the above and plan to be in the exam room with them. The elderly can be forgetful, especially if they are already suffering from confusion. In order to help the doctor properly diagnose your loved one, and help you and your loved one understand the diagnosis and treatment, stay in the room to get the 411 directly from the doctor.
Finally, your nurse and doctor are going to be taking notes while they're in the exam room and you can too! If it helps you remember the important elements of your visit, take notes during the examination. It's better to document your discussion, diagnosis, and treatment plans on paper so you remember it when you return home and your loved one asks you how it went!