INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS
Office Visit Tips
Your visit with your doctor is an important meeting that can be most effective if you plan ahead. It's important that you give your doctor the information he or she needs and that you understand what your doctor is recommending. The following checklist will help you and your doctor discuss the issues most important for getting the most out of the visit.
Before you go
>Find out the basics about the office. Where is it? What time should you arrive? If you're going to drive, where can your park? Do you need to bring your insurance card or a managed care medical referral?
2. Assemble your records such as results and copies of X-rays, other imaging studies and lab tests and personally take the records to the doctor's office.
3. Make written lists of:
- Medications you are taking.
- Your medical history, such as prior treatments for fatigue, memory loss or kidney involvement, even those not related to your current problem.
- Your concerns about your condition (pains, loss of mobility or function).
4. Consider asking a friend or family member to accompany you. If you need a translator, ask another adult to come with you; don't rely on a child to translate.
5. Dress appropriately. For spine, skin and many problems involving the arms and legs, you may be asked to disrobe. Wear loose clothing that's easy to take off and put on.
At the doctor's office
1. Arrive early so you can complete any required forms or tests before meeting with your doctor.
2. Be honest and complete in talking with your doctor. Share your point of view and don't hold back information about issues such as incontinence, memory loss, sex, or other issues that you might consider embarrassing.
3. Stick to the point. It might be fun to share news about the children, but keep it short to get the most out of your time with the doctor.
4. Take notes on what the doctor tells you, and ask questions if you don't understand the meaning of a word or the instructions for taking medication.
5. Ask what to expect from your medication and/or treatment, what effect it will have on you and your daily activities and what you can do to prevent further disability.
6. Ask your doctor for handouts or brochures that you and your family members can review at home. Your doctor may refer you to an Internet web site for more information.
7. Talk to the other members of the health care team, too, such as physician assistants, nurses, therapists (speech, physical or occupational).
When you get home
1. Review the materials the doctor gave you. If you can't remember something, or if you don't understand your notes, call the office and speak to a member of your health care team.
2. Follow the doctor's instructions. Take the full course of medication and make sure you follow the prescribed diet or exercise routine. Remember, you're a part of your health care team, too.
3. Keep your doctor informed of any changes in your condition.
Questions to ask at the visit or later, if your doctor recommends surgery
• Why is this procedure being recommend
ed? Are there alternatives?
• What are the benefits of this procedure in terms of pain relief and improvement of function and mobility? How long will the benefits last?
• What are the risks involved?
• What is the procedure called? How is it done?
• What percentage of patients improves following the procedure?
• What will happen if I don't have the surgery now?
• If I want a second opinion, whom can I consult?