It sounds simple enough: You go to your physician, get examined, ask your questions and find out what to do. But unfortunately we often let hurry, worry or embarrassment keep us from getting what we need from a doctor visit. So how can you get the most benefit from one-on-one time with your doctor? Try these eight tips to help make things go their smoothest:
- Make a list. Before your appointment, jot down the two or three things you most want to ask the doctor. This list helps you remember the points you want to bring up.
- Be specific. You know how your body feels. Without wasting time on small talk, describe your symptoms in as much detail as possible. If you’re having knee pain, for example, explain what it feels like and when it occurs. Is it sharp or dull, sudden or gradual, constant or does it come and go?
- Bring records. If you have a copy of the results from a recent test or a pertinent report from a specialist, bring it along.
- Get medicines checked. If you take several prescription medications, bring a list of them—or bring the pill bottles with you.
- Bring a family member. Having a spouse or an adult child present for all or part of a doctor visit can help you recall what’s important.
- Speak up promptly. Some patients leave their biggest worry for the end of the visit, when the doctor is finishing the conversation. Don’t make this mistake —mention big concerns early to be sure there is time to answer your questions.
- Don't try to be your own doctor. It’s good to do research, but resist jumping to conclusions about your condition. Describe what you’re feeling, and you and your physician can decide what it means.
- Summarize. Before the doctor leaves the room, ask for a moment to repeat back to him or her a summary of the main things you learned during the visit. That will help make sure you got it right.