Patients see their doctors for routine check-ups on average about three to four times per year. Regular doctor check-ups are one of the most basic and important parts of getting good health care. Getting the most out of the check-up depends a lot on how well you and your doctor talk to each other. Knowing which questions to ask, what to say and when to listen are all important things to consider whenever going to a check-up. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your next check-up. To Make an Appointment
When making an appointment with the physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant (PA), explain the reason for the appointment, so the receptionist knows how much time the doctor will need. Be as clear as possible but remember that you don’t need to give a full health history or disclose any private information to the receptionist. For example:
“My knee has bothered me for several months and I want to make an appointment within the next week or two to have it evaluated.”
“I’ve had a cold for a week and now I feel worse with a high fever and pain. I would like an appointment today.”
If you feel unsure about whether or not you actually need to see a healthcare provider, ask to speak with a nurse or to someone who can help evaluate your concern and determine when you should schedule an appointment. Ask for what you need on the front end, and your time with the provider will be more informative. Prepare for the Appointment
If you are seeing a new provider, bring a copy of your healthcare records and the results of any previous tests or procedures. Be sure to keep copies of these records for yourself, just in case you are asked to leave the documents you bring to your appointment.
Your healthcare records belong to you. A patient has a right to have his/her medical information and may request this from the provider or hospital.
You might consider creating a notebook or filing system to maintain all of your medical records in an orderly fashion. Also make sure that your name appears on all of the forms, reports, and correspondence.
Finally, you should verify that you have had the conditions and/or procedures listed, and that the diagnoses are correct. Be Prepared to Tell Your Story
The average doctor’s appointment is about fifteen minutes, so it is important to prepare for the visit. Even if you are feeling worried, anxious, or embarrassed about your health, don’t wait until the end of the visit to bring up the real reason for your visit or the provider will be unable to address your concern. Keep copies of your medical records, tests, procedures and a list of medications with dosages. Make a list of your concerns and medications. Include the following:
- ALL prescribed and over-the-counter medications as well as any herbal supplements you currently take. If possible, take the bottles with you.
- Symptoms and side effects that you have experienced since last seeing the doctor.
- Complaints of pain-location, duration, intensity, injury, pain medication effectiveness.
- Bowel, bladder changes, incontinence, diarrhea, constipation.
- History of falls, gait disturbances, episodes of dizziness.
- Redness or open wounds on body/feet.
- Recent weight loss or gain.
- Changes in mental behavior or signs of depression.
- History of allergy/adverse reactions to any medications/foods, etc.
During the Office Visit
- Ask for clarification if you don’t understand what you have been told, or still have questions.
- Ask for explanations of treatment goals and possible side effects.
- Ask for written instructions if you don’t understand.
- Tell your doctor about any cultural or religious beliefs that may affect your treatment.
- Stand up for yourself or have a friend or family member advocate for you if your concerns are not met.
- Balance assertiveness with friendliness and understanding.
- Be clear about when to schedule your next visit
What to Do at the End of Your Office Visit
Take responsibility for your well-being – ask questions.
- Before leaving the provider’s office make sure you understand all instructions.
- Check that you have the written prescription for any newly prescribed medication.
- Make any future follow up appointments requested by your physician.
Article From InterView Magazine