By: Leonardo Blachar, M.D.
Your office visit is a very important time for both you and your doctor. Be prepared!
Have you made the right appointment with the right doctor?
Are you going to the right doctor for the right type of problem? And have you made that clear at the time you’ve scheduled the visit? Perhaps that surgeon you have an appointment for your thyroid is a colon-rectal surgeon. Or you’re pregnant and that new gynecologist you’ve had an appointment for 2 months doesn’t deliver babies. And make it clear why you’re coming in, so the proper amount of time can be allotted for you. If you’re scheduled to come for a simple urinary tract infection but you’d really like to begin a discussion regarding hormone replacement therapy, say so.
Bring records, results, and meds
If you’re coming in to discuss results from somewhere else bring them. Do not assume they have been sent because you have asked and signed a release a couple of weeks ago. If you were told they were faxed, confirm it. They cannot be sent on the spot and no, we are not all on the same computer system with access to all your medical records. So, make sure they are there. You may have to actually bring them with you in your hand, or preferably drop them off before. And bring a list of your medications, even if they do not pertain to the specialist you are seeing. Something may have to be prescribed which may interact with what you are already taking. Or you may be having a side effect you may not be aware of. Either way, it’s important for all your doctors to know as much as possible about your entire medical history.
Ask, don’t interrogate
Bring a list of any questions you may have. Feel free to ask them in a forthright and open way. In return, you should receive honest, open, easy to understand answers. One should not ask in a challenging manner nor receive an answer in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. If so, something is wrong. And by all means, do not think you know more than the doctor because you have high-speed internet.
Bring an extra ear
If you are coming to discuss something complex, bring along a friend or family member to listen in. A lot of information is often exchanged that is difficult to remember. Take notes, if necessary.
Everyone’s time is valuable. A little preparation will go a long way in making your physician visits more productive.