Get the most out of your doctor's visit

Child at a doctor's visit - Creative Commons license - Photo credit: proimosPosted on April 12, 2012
Adapted from FCHP's publication, Wellness Works Today

Whether you’re going in for a routine check-up or because you’re sick, it’s important to prepare for your appointment to make the most of it.

Thinking of some questions (and answers!) for your doctor will help him or her figure out what is wrong, how to get better, and how to prevent illness.

Start by making a couple of lists. Write down your questions and concerns, and what you want to get out of the visit. Then make a list of what you think the doctor may ask you, and jot down the answers.

Taking notes

Here are some questions to get you thinking.

The best way to get the most out of your visit is to start with the basics:

  • When did you first feel the pain?
  • What were you doing when you first felt the pain?
  • Have you taken any medications?
  • Have you used any other home treatments?

At your yearly physical:

  • What are my questions and concerns?
  • Are there any new problems or changes regarding an existing condition?
  • Have there been any significant changes in my life, such as eating habits, trouble sleeping, death in the family or divorce?
  • What medications am I taking (prescription, over-the-counter and any herbal remedies)?

If you have a new problem:

  • What exactly is the problem?
  • When did it start?
  • What have I done to treat the symptoms?
  • How severe are the symptoms?
  • What does the doctor recommend for treatment?

For follow-up visits:

  • What has changed from the last visit?
  • Am I having difficulty with the current treatment?
  • Are there alternative treatments?
  • Are there any new issues?
  • Is anything getting worse?

On appointment day

Bring your notes to the doctor’s. You know how easy it is to forget a question in the moment, and remember when you’re driving home from the appointment.

Let the doctor ask you more questions to help him or her diagnose the problem. Once the doctor is finished questioning you, make sure you ask your questions and get answers to them.

When you go to your appointment prepared with questions for the doctor and answers for what he or she may ask, you will make the best use of your time.

Check out Healthwise® Knowledgebase for more great information about doctor visits.


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