Doctor Visit Pearls
From my point of view as a doctor, here are a few tips, some obvious and some not so obvious:
What’s the quickest way to get in and out for your appointment? Book the first appointment of the day. I try my best to be on time, but it can be hard.
Are you a new patient with a complicated history, or have you had a number of tests done with a previous doctor? Bring in those records, especially if you received care out of town. We can always have you sign a release in the office, which means we will obtain the records after you leave, but it is so much easier to have the records at the initial consultation.
Know your medications. And their doses. If you are unsure of either, bring a list, or bring all the bottles.
Don’t just stop your medications on your own without communicating to your doctor who prescribed the medicine. I’ve seen some absolutely catastrophic events occur when patients take it upon themselves to decide a medication is not needed — stents clotting off, congestive heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes, to name just a few.
Skip the excuses. If you gained five pounds when you were supposed to lose weight, have been eating crap, and haven’t exercised, don’t tell me how you’re busy and stressed out. We’re all busy. And your heart doesn’t care. There will always be excuses not to do the right things, and your bad habits will catch up with you and your health will suffer. Own up and make a plan to do better going forward to take care of yourself.
Use your appointment time wisely. Your doctor does have a limited amount of time, so be focused, Know why you came and get the answers that you need. You wouldn’t ask a fisherman how to herd cattle, so don’t ask me a question better suited for a different specialist.
Be nice to the office staff. The receptionists, medical assistants, and medical records workers are all critical to the function of any good office practice. They work hard and deserve respect. And, you can rest assured that your doctor will know if you were rude, even if you are saccharine-sweet in the exam room.
If you don’t understand, ask. I love questions. It shows me that a patient is invested in their own health and is motivated. As doctors we are teachers, and I love to empower my patients to take control of their health.
After the visit, do not be afraid to communicate. You don’t understand your instructions? The pharmacy didn’t receive your prescription? You’re having what could be a reaction to a medicine? Please call. Or, e-mail. My office has a secure email communication system. Your message goes straight to the doctor.