Arriving prepared for an appointment with a new doctor benefits both you and your physician. Preparing an organized folder or binder that outlines your previous care will decrease the amount of time spent explaining your history, and allow for more time to discuss your current health concerns. Take these steps to enhance the productivity of your appointment:
- Gather your medical records –Call your previous physician’s office or the medical records department to obtain a copy of your medical records. This should include previous tests and screenings, dates of immunizations, and any recent changes in your health. If you’ve had a recent inpatient stay, be sure to include a discharge summary. If you’ve recently had surgery, include an operative note and pathology report. Also, if you have had recent imaging done, contact the film room to obtain a CD with recent CAT scan, and/or MRI scans.
- Make a list of all your current medications and supplements – Creating a document on your computer is a good idea because it provides you with an organized and accessible list that can be easily updated. Your list should include all of your prescription medications (including dosage and frequency), as well as any over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements that you’re taking. Be sure to tell your new doctor of any allergies or negative reactions you’ve experienced with past medications.
- Create a symptoms diary – To give your doctor a better understanding of your symptoms, it would be helpful to prepare a symptom diary. Track how often your symptoms occur, at what time of day, where they occur, the intensity, and any trends you notice.
- Prepare and bring a copy of your health questions and concerns – Before your appointment, take a few minutes to write down your health concerns and questions. Bring a copy with you to share with your new doctor.
- Bring a notepad and pen – Doctor’s appointments can be overwhelming, and it’s common to leave an appointment questioning what you should do next. Jotting down notes during a visit is a good way to stay organized and become an active participant in your care.
- Support system – Bringing a friend or family member along provides crucial moral support. A friend or relative can remind you of your primary questions and concerns, and take notes so that you can focus on the conversation with your doctor.
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