Planning Your Next Doctor’s Appointment

Going to the doctor can be overwhelming. Even if it is just a routine visit, there can be a multitude of things to remember. Nothing feels worse than walking out of a doctor’s appointment and remembering a question you forgot. However, going to doctor doesn’t have to be stressful. While many health care providers have large lists of everything you need, we’ve compiled these suggestions to provide you a set of tips to remember before going to your appointment and during your office visit.

Before Your Appointment

Before you have even stepped foot out the front door, here are some essential things you’ll need to bring:

  • Your medical records, if any, from other physicians. Keep a list of any procedures or surgeries you’ve had in the past to share this information with your doctor.
  • Any forms that the doctor wants you to complete. Sometimes an office will offer these forms online or mail them to you to complete before your visit.
  • Your insurance cards, driver’s license or state ID and, if needed, written authorization from your HMO insurance company. Always keep your doctor informed of changes to your address or phone number.
  • Be prepared to wait. Bring book, other reading material and your phone. Some offices have wireless internet and allow electronic devices. Just make sure you keep the volume low as a courtesy to others.
  • If you have a copay, don’t forget to bring your payment.

At the Office

Perhaps one of the most important things you will discuss with your physician are the medications you are taking, both prescription and over the counter. Some ways to prepare this information include:

  • Providing the name, phone number and location of your preferred pharmacy as well as a  list of your current medications and their dosages including:
    • Over the counter medications
    • Vitamins and supplements
    • Any short term medications or antibiotics
    • You can download our Medications List Form and Safe Medications Form to use as a reference. Sometimes, it can help to bring along the bottles that the pharmacy dispensed them in. If you require a refill, let your physician know at your visit.
  • Keeping a notebook and write down any questions or a list of your symptoms prior to the appointment. Bring it with you and note your doctor’s responses at the time of the visit. This can help if you happen to see multiple doctors in a day.
  • Bringing your INR log book if you are on warfarin (or brand of warfarin such as Coumadin®) and any other records your physician may require like daily fingerstick glucose results or daily blood pressures.

If you are uncomfortable about going to the doctor by yourself, considering having a family member, friend, caregiver or legal representative present at your appointment and to oversee your medical care and treatment. You can also provide your doctor with a copy of your advance directives or living will so your physician can review it and place it in your medical record.

Including these things in your preparation can help make your appointment go smoothly and can save you the feeling of forgetting something important. Having all of your medical history available at the time of your appointment can make a doctor visit more productive and can give them a better picture of you, the patient.

References:

1.    Mayo Clinic - http://www.mayoclinic.org/patient-visitor-guide/minnesota/becoming-a-patient/what-to-bring

2.    Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leana-wen-md/doctors-appointments_b_2147065.htm

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