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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Get what's important from your doctor visit

Part of my article in EzineArticles.

The most important thing you should get out of your appointment with the doctor is an adequate explanation to the problem which prompted your visit.

Write down your questions in the order that you feel is the most important. Write down, or ask your doctor to write down, the answers to your questions, including instructions for the use of prescription and over the counter medications, medical devices, and lifestyle changes. If there isn't enough time to have all of your questions answered, then you will have had the most important ones addressed, and could save the rest for the next visit.

Carry with you, at all times, a legible, up-to-date list of all the medications you take. Include in it all prescribed and non-prescribed medications by all of your physicians. Also include in the list the dose, reason for use, frequency of use, and the date you started taking the medication. Examples might include:

1) Digoxin.25 mg. every evening, for control of heart rhythm, started 6/2009.
2) Buffered aspirin 650 mg. as needed for mild headache, started 2007, Dr. XYZ.

This list will be useful to you during your visit and in case of an emergency. Don't assume that your physician knows all the medications you are taking!

During your visit, try to be as specific about your symptoms as you can. Telling your doctor "I had a fever last night with shaking chills and a temperature of 101" is much more meaningful and leads to a faster diagnosis than saying "I have been feeling sick since last night." Telling the doctor "I have been taking amoxicillin 500 mg. every eight hours since I became sick" is much more meaningful than "I took those yellow horse pills you gave me two years ago for two days."

Remember: In order to derive benefit and satisfaction from your visit to the doctor, both you and your physician must work together. You are the principal source of information about the way you feel. The more detail your doctor has about your condition, the more will he be able to help you, and you will feel better having accomplished what you started out to do. It takes teamwork!

Be an active partner in your own health care. Let's do it together!

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