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.
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.
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?
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. 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.
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.
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.
Getting started with a new doctor
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Suman Kumar Mishr at his office in Cridersville. Craig J. Orosz | The Lima News
Suman Kumar Mishr MD, Fellow of American College of Endocrinology, Cridersville