Got a Doctor Appointment? Check This Out.

Got a Doctor Appointment? Check This Out.

Almost every time I arrive at my annual physical or any doctor appointment, I forget ONE thing. And it’s not my symptoms or questions, no. It’s always a list of medications and vitamins that I take. Almost immediately I am handed forms to fill out and there I am, scrambling to remember names, dosages etc. (This time I’m going to type up a list, save it and print out a few copies.) Take away–want to have a successful doctor appointment? Be prepared. And don’t just jam all your med bottles into a paper bag and bring them along–the approach above is less cumbersome, you won’t lose your drugs and you’ll always have the list. Below, a few more tips for a successful appointment.

  1. Doctors are often late. They don’t want to be, but things happen: a patient is late; a patient does what doctors fear–gets up the courage to say I HAVE CHEST PAIN as the appointment is ending. Extending a slotted time for a patient can happen for a number of reasons, over which you and your doctor have no control.
  2. Keep things moving, don’t make the doctor question why you are there or if something other than a routine physical is required at this appointment. Address your concerns with your doctor immediately. Even if the thing you want to tell him or her frightens you (I have a lump in my breast) say it right away–get the news out so the doctor can handle the issue, put it at the top of the list. When patients fail to do this, doctors call it the OH BY THE WAY, moment.
  3. Be specific about symptoms and when they started and what they are. Dr. Amber Tully MD says if you do that, a full report might even make it unnecessary to run certain tests.
  4. Once you’re related your concerns, let the doctor run the conversation. The questions you will be asked will hone in on the process of determining your care. Relating that this ache started during a volley ball game might be relevant, but keep the details short and related to your symptom.
  5. Doctors will never pass judgment on physical problems that relate to intimate patient concerns. You’re there to get help–tell your doctor intercourse is now painful or that you’re passing gas constantly. Isn’t that really why you are there? The doctor is not a mind-reader.
  6. Doctors want you to understand what has been discussed and what your take-aways are. If you are unclear about anything–ask! And it’s always a good thing when you are given a new medication, to repeat back to the doctor or the nurse the instructions for taking that medication. I like to take notes.
  7. Be honest. Doctors will be able to help you only if they have true information: you took your husband’s antibiotic; you aren’t taking any of your meds; you smoke, drink, do street drugs, have more than one sexual partner.

Dr. John Ely underlines the importance of accurate exchanges between doctor and patient by listing the eight characteristics of a symptom as:

  1. where is your pain (if that’s your complaint) and where does it radiate i.e. move;
  2. this symptom: lasts how long? occurs how often? is getting worse? is getting better?
  3. Describe what you were doing when this pain first occurred?
  4. Do you have other symptoms associated with this symptom, with this pain? Describe them.
  5. Using an example, describe the quality of your symptom i.e. pain is like the stabbing of an ice pick or burns like fire
  6. Now describe the quantity of this symptom i.e. on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst what is it?
  7. What makes your symptom worse? if your were dizzy is it worse when you roll over in bed?
  8. What improves the symptom? Heat, cold, sleep, eating, movement etc.

For more information about making the most of a doctor appointment, please check out my past posts: Bring Your List of Questions to the Docs Office, They have A List Too. And Be Your Own Health Advocate. 

Got a Doctor Appointment? Check This Out.

Got a Doctor Appointment? Check This Out.








Thanks to Parade Magazine and the WELLMARK BLUE Publication




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8 thoughts on “Got a Doctor Appointment? Check This Out.

  1. This was an excellent list.

    I write my own health history with small explanations about certain conditions doctors might not know that much about–an invisible neurological condition. I include medications and more.

    This eliminates a lot of paperwork as many doctors don’t have things to fill online or if they do it doesn’t include everything.

    I find this puts me on a more equal footing with a new doctor, and nothing is forgotten.

  2. Perfect. My husband has a chronic illness and when we were seeking second opinions we always came prepared with everything–it moves things along and as you say, nothing is forgotten. Be well, Beth

  3. Such good advice, Beth. Too many of us are too passive about doctor appointments and don’t use the limited time available to our advantage! It’s up to us to help our doctor help us–we’re partners in our healthcare, ya know?

    • Yes, we are partners and as I always say THE DOCTOR WORKS FOR YOU. Thanks for reading, Roxanne.

  4. Great advice and BTW… Your cartoon isn’t that far off the mark. When I had my top breast cancer blog, I became fairly high profile in the breast cancer community. You’d be surprised how many women believed everything Suzanne Somers said. Her suggestions about synthetic hormones are literally deadly. Brenda

    • Thanks, Brenda, I am so glad that you are okay. And yes, we do live in a celebrity society and people like Somers get power and lead people astray. I have written more than once about autism and Jenny McCarthy–but I won’t go there today!! Beth

  5. Good article. It’s so important to track things when you have any kind of health issue, so you can give the doctor the right information to figure out what is going on. Keeping an up-to-date list of medications and supplements is just as important.

    • Thanks, Denise. Certainly am rooting for you and the work you did with your Huff Post Piece. Beth

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