Ask a Doctor: Maximizing a doctor call


By Dr. Suman Kumar Mishr - Guest Column



Dr. Suman Kumar Mishr at his office in Cridersville. Craig J. Orosz | The Lima News

Dr. Suman Kumar Mishr at his office in Cridersville. Craig J. Orosz | The Lima News


SEND QUESTIONS TO:

Ask a Doctor

306 Reichelderfer Road

Cridersville, OH 45806-2252

EMAIL QUESTIONS:

askadoctor37@gmail.com

Subject line: Ask a Doc

Question: I’m planning to go to a new doctor for first time. I do not know what to do. I have gone to the doctor with my grandma, and I know a lot of times Grandma used to forget what she was supposed to bring to the office. I want to do better. — Briana, of Coldwater

Visiting the doctor’s office is a particularly important part of your medical care. You must try to get the best bang for your buck.

Your preparation starts with the last visit. Review the summary of the last visit before you start planning the coming visit. You might be able to find out what you were supposed to do before the upcoming visit.

Do not miss your appointment. Many people forget. Try to mark it in the calendar or your cellphone. If a lab test is supposed to be done before the visit, set a reminder about it a week before the appointment.

Prioritize your concerns. It might be helpful to write down the points you want to discuss with the doctor. Priority must be given to the most important concern. For example, do you have a new symptom you want to ask the doctor about? Do you want to get a flu shot? Do you want a refill? Are you concerned about how a treatment is affecting your daily life? Do not put off the things that are really on your mind until the end of your appointment, like when the doctor is ready to finish. Bring them up right away.

Take the relevant information with you to the doctor. It may mean your blood sugar diary, blood pressure diary or food diary. Your notes should include whatever happened since the last visit from the medical point of view. Did you see any other doctors, or were you in the hospital? If you have had any tests done, either carry the copy of the results with you or make sure that the doctor’s office gets those results before the visit. Lots of time is wasted in the doctor’s office trying to gather the test results.

Be sure you can see and hear as well as possible. It will not be very productive if you forget your eyeglasses and hearing aid at home.

If you do not understand the doctor, let him or her know. The doctor may want to give you written instructions. Let the staff know if you do not understand your diagnosis or the instructions the doctor gives you. Do not let language barriers stop you from asking questions or voicing your concerns.

The time for the office visit is limited. Try not to discuss matters unrelated to your illness.

What to bring

Health folder: It is a good idea to have your personal health folder. Try to keep all important documents in that folder.

List of medicines: Some doctors suggest you put all your prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal remedies or supplements in a bag and bring them with you. Others recommend you bring a list of everything you take. Many people are taking 20 to 30 drugs day. Ask the doctor to help you to sort out medicines or over-the-counter products to be discontinued. Do not think that over-the-counter products are harmless because they claim to be natural. Many times, they interfere with the drugs that you are taking. Many of them are unproven and are waste of money.

List of your illness: You may not remember about all your past illnesses. List them.

Correct insurance details: These days people change their insurance, doctors, pharmacies and phone number frequently. Let the doctor’s office know, otherwise they cannot help you and communicate with you effectively. You should also take your insurance cards, names, phone numbers of other doctors you see and pharmacy that you use.

A family member or friend: Let your family member or friend know in advance what you want from your visit. Your companion can remind you what you planned to discuss with the doctor if you forget. She or he can be your computer chip and take notes for you and can help you remember what the doctor said. Do not let your companion take too strong a role. The visit is between you and the doctor. You may want some time alone with the doctor to discuss personal matters.

Getting started with a new doctor

Many years ago, when the electronic medical records started, we were supposed to get a thumb drive with all our information to be given to the doctor. It has not panned out like that. Your first meeting is a good time to talk with the doctor and the office staff about some communication basics.

Office how-to: Introduce yourself. It is better to be called by the name that is on your insurance card and medical records. Ask what to do if there is an emergency. Find out what to do if you need a doctor when the office is closed. In an emergency it is best to call 911 or go to the emergency room. Nonemergency messages can be left over the phone. Many times, the doctor may not get time to call you right away and call you at the end of the day or the doctor might assign his staff to call you.

Your medical history: You may have received forms to fill out before coming to the visit in the mail. If not, try to arrive for the appointment 10-15 minutes early. If you have problems understanding how to fill out any of forms, ask for help from your family members or friends.

Ask for an interpreter: If you need one, ask.

Be honest: Doctors cannot help you if you hide information. It is tempting to say what you think the doctor wants to hear, for example, that you smoke less or eat a more balanced diet than you really do. If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, it is important your doctor knows. People who are LGBT have unique health needs. People get embarrassed and may leave out things that could be really important, like alcohol or marijuana use. Other topics that may be difficult to talk about include depression, sexual dysfunction and incontinence. Do not hesitate to mention them.

Tips to remember instructions

No matter what your age, it’s easy to forget a lot of what your doctor says. Even if you are comfortable talking with your doctor, you may not always understand what he or she says. So, as your doctor gives you information, it’s a good idea to check that you are following along. Ask about anything that does not seem clear. For instance, you might say: “I want to make sure I understand. Could you explain that a little more?” or “I did not understand that word. What does it mean?”

Another way to check is to repeat what you think the doctor means in your own words and ask, “Is this correct?”

Here are some other ideas:

Take notes. Take along a notepad and pen and write down the main points or ask the doctor to write them down for you. If you cannot write while the doctor is talking to you, make notes in the waiting room after the visit. You may call back when you reach home also and get clarification. Sometimes, the doctor may want you to talk with other health professionals like dietitians, health educators or others.

MyChart: Learn how to use MyChart to communicate with the doctor’s office. You need an email address and a smart phone to use this tool of communication. It is not an invasion of your privacy to use this tool.

Etiquette

When the doctor walks in: When your doctor walks into the room and asks how you’re feeling or why you’re there, answer with a concise explanation of the main purpose of her visit.

Cellphones: Please do not take phone calls or text during the office visit. You may lose precious time that is needed to take care of you. It is better to put the phone on silent mode. Try to focus on the doctor and the information available in the room.

Come as you are: Many patients come to the doctor’s office fasting because they think they might need a fasting blood test. Concerned about your skin or nails? Don’t wear makeup or nail polish, which could hide the true condition. Concerned with extra hair? Don’t shave. The doctor will need to see the problem to make a proper diagnosis.

Dr. Suman Kumar Mishr at his office in Cridersville. Craig J. Orosz | The Lima News
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/11/web1_MishrCMYK.jpgDr. Suman Kumar Mishr at his office in Cridersville. Craig J. Orosz | The Lima News

By Dr. Suman Kumar Mishr

Guest Column

SEND QUESTIONS TO:

Ask a Doctor

306 Reichelderfer Road

Cridersville, OH 45806-2252

EMAIL QUESTIONS:

askadoctor37@gmail.com

Subject line: Ask a Doc

Suman Kumar Mishr MD, Fellow of American College of Endocrinology, Cridersville

Suman Kumar Mishr MD, Fellow of American College of Endocrinology, Cridersville

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