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5 Steps to Effective Medical Care Visits

Just Ask!

No question is a wrong one when it comes to your health.

No question is a wrong one when it comes to your health.

You Can Get Answers by Being Prepared

How many times have you gone to the doctor’s and not been satisfied with your visit? I know that I seem to have a ton of questions for the physician, but when I’ve arrived at the office they’re gone from my thinking.

With recent heath issues of my husband I’ve been much better at being prepared for each of his appointments. Here are a few tips that can help make your medical visits more useful and productive.

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Carry a Writing Tablet

Always carry something to take down notes of your visit.

Always carry something to take down notes of your visit.

1 - Write it Down

Those questions are important and so are you. Getting them answered can relieve stress, confusion and stop improper treatment.

Be sure to be prepared by writing down your questions the week before your visit. Or write them when they come to mind. Post them near a place where you won’t forget to take the list with you when your appointment date comes.

Ask the Doctor


One of the first things I noticed when we began the extensive doctor visits to all the specialists is that some of the patients carried a notebook with all the things they acquired over their extensive health care.

After the first visit I realized why. Now I write things in a steno pad and just bring the tablet with us every time we go, this way it is always a habit.

They're Ready to Listen

You physician is interested in your concerns.

You physician is interested in your concerns.

2 -Talk about Your Concerns

The doctor isn't a mind reader. Tell them what is on your mind, no matter how insignificant you think it is.

Don’t be afraid to bring up all your concerns during your time with the doctor or staff. They can’t read your mind and aren’t with you on a regular basis, so they don’t know what is effecting your health.

Make sure to ask about any foods or other medications that may interfere with your progress, like can you take vitamins with the medication you are currently taking? Some vitamins will affect the effectiveness of medicines and should be avoided.

Let the doctor know of any health changes you’ve been experiencing by listing your symptoms, when and how often you’re getting them. For example, be sure to specify any redness, nausea, dizziness, swelling, etc.

If needed, say that you don’t understand what the doctor is telling you about your condition. Ask the physician to define any medical terms in words that you can relate to in your diagnosis and treatment. You cannot do what you don’t understand. No question is dumb, so ask.

Healing the Whole You

Is it all right if I exercise?  How much can I do?  How often?

Is it all right if I exercise? How much can I do? How often?

3 - What Else Can I Do?

It's not always about taking your medications. You health is much more than a pill.

Find out if there are other things you can do to aid in your recovery besides taking any medicine. This is an area we were continually exploring after my husband’s heart attack.

Scroll to Continue

My husband had to wait for paperwork to be done by several agencies before he could begin physical therapy at the heart clinic. This put his therapy way behind schedule so we had to look for an alternative place until he could be switched. Later when he needed other care for specialist appointments the attending heart doctor was on vacation and the nurse was out on sick leave. These things happen, so be prepared to make any changes if need be so that your progress is not hindered.

While waiting for an official medical form, the heart clinic nurse found another facility for us at the community senior center. It allows heart care patients to use their exercise equipment even if they aren’t senior citizens, as long as they have a letter from their doctor.

You are the only one who knows how you really feel. Find out what else you can do right away and add to it as you progress. It's not about being able to run a mile or ride across town on a bike. Everyone heals at a different pace and you may find that what works for others may not be the best method for your wellness.

There is usually a solution if everyone gets involved.

4 - Review the Visit

Before leaving your appointment, review all you discussed during the visit, making sure to tie up loose ends. You’d be surprised at what you’ve left out or already forgotten.

Write down new things in your notebook or journal before leaving the room. Keep this journal handy at home and while you are out to jot down questions that come to mind for your next appointment.

Next Time ...

Be sure to have your next appointment information in your hand before leaving your doctor's visit.

Be sure to have your next appointment information in your hand before leaving your doctor's visit.

5 - Take Care of Future Appointments Now

Be sure to take care of scheduling new appointments or follow-up dates when you are at the doctor’s. Many times this is forgotten and getting a specific date needed is hard to do later. You don’t want to be put on a waiting list, so take care of this right then if you can.

Have the attending staff or clerical personal give you a card with the date and time listed. Put it on the refrigerator or in your appointment book as soon as you get home.

On Your Way to Better Health Care

In taking these pro-active steps you will find that each of your doctor’s appointments will be more productive, because you went prepared. Your anxiety levels will drop knowing that you have already made provision for the day.

You’ll find that when you take into account these steps your doctor and medical personal will be able to serve you better, and you will come away having more understanding to your health needs.

The 5 Steps in Review

  1. Write it Down

  2. Talk About Your Concerns

  3. What Else Can I Do?

  4. Review the Visit

  5. Make A New Appointment Now

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What do you do to help your doctor visit go smoothly?

Fay Favored (author) from USA on June 28, 2015:

Sylvestermouse this is an issue I think is ongoing for most of us. I now keep a small tablet and pen in my pocket, because questions may come to mind in the middle of doing something else.

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on June 27, 2015:

This is excellent advice! It truly is amazing that no matter how closely we are listening to a doctor, we will still forget some things that are said that may well be important. Writing down the questions in advance is also imperative. I often forget what I meant to ask if I don't have a list. Thanks for sharing your advice based on experience.

Fay Favored (author) from USA on May 14, 2015:

I find that if I don't write things down I usually forget what I wanted to ask while in the doctor's office. This is a habit that I actually want to keep :)

Treasures By Brenda from Canada on April 29, 2015:

That first step is a biggie. I write everything down before I go to the doctor so I won't forget to ask something. Writing what the doctor says down is a good idea in reverse.

Fay Favored (author) from USA on April 16, 2015:

They have worked every time peachpurple. It's a good back up to our brain :)

peachy from Home Sweet Home on April 15, 2015:

great tips, these notes are helpful during visit to the hospitals

Fay Favored (author) from USA on April 04, 2015:

BarbRad yes it's important to keep a running current list of the medications. We also bring the medication to each visit. Seems the always need to see the bottle as well, at least his doctors do. Thanks for visiting and the good suggestion.

Barbara Radisavljevic from Paso Robles, CA on April 03, 2015:

Those are really useful tips. One other thing you might make sure is in that notebook you take with you is a list of all your medications. You will need it for the paperwork everywhere you go. I usually keep it on a printed paper they can make a copy of at the office and give back to me. It's also good to take your medical history, especially dates and descriptions of any past surgeries. They always want that, too, and I can't always remember.

Fay Favored (author) from USA on March 02, 2015:

peachpurple thanks for visiting and commenting.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on March 02, 2015:

thanks for the tip, must jot them down

Fay Favored (author) from USA on February 07, 2015:

Lady Guinevere I know what you mean. That happens all the time it seems. With the medications my husband is on I need to write down all the changes while I'm sitting in the doctor's office with him to keep track. Good to see you.

Debra Allen from West Virginia on February 07, 2015:

Yes, write it down. Last time that I went to the doctr they told me when to take the packing out and before I got home 15 minutes later, I forget what he told me.

Fay Favored (author) from USA on January 27, 2015:

SandyMertens I know exactly what you mean. It seems that I have tons of questions, but all fly out of my thinking when I'm in the doctor's office. Writing them down takes practice.

Sandy Mertens from Frozen Tundra on January 27, 2015:

I know that I am due for an office visit. My mind goes blank when I am there. Good to write it all down.

Fay Favored (author) from USA on January 27, 2015:

DDE Taking notes before and during doctor visits is a good idea. Wish I would have done it before the crisis came. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 27, 2015:

Medical care visits are important and making notes of each is crucial to other visits. To compare the differences if any. A n excellent idea!

Fay Favored (author) from USA on January 13, 2015:

Pawpawwrites it's a good habit to get into. Nice to see you.

Jim from Kansas on January 13, 2015:

Writing down your question, is a great idea. I do it myself.

Fay Favored (author) from USA on December 13, 2014:

Jackie Lynnley we'll be praying, please keep us posted how things go.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on December 13, 2014:

It was not the doctor actually that kept my notes but the nurse. I will be having surgery after Christmas but I thank you for your prayers. We can never have too many of those. ( I can't for sure.) It stems from an injury I had when I was 16 and that is more years ago than I will admit to! lol One of the big symptoms of this is an exaggerated reflex which I have had so many doctors laugh at when if they had only know it was a big clue to my problem. So if you know anyone with that symptom; let them know it could be from a spinal injury that can affect A to Z in the body!


Fay Favored (author) from USA on December 13, 2014:

Jackie Lynnley what a strange thing for the doctor's to do in keeping your own notes. I've never had that happen. Thanks for the heads up though. I'm sad to hear about the real problem with your back and pray God will bless you with healing.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on December 13, 2014:

I always (in the last few years) write things down for I would never remember. Have you ever had them try to take your list form you? Once they even kept it for part of my file. I get mad every time I think about that! lol I would never let them do that again. Course that was when I had all these real weird symptoms that mostly just got laughed at and now no one is apologizing since they found out my spinal cord is next to being divided causing all the crazy things for years that even had me wondering about me! lol

I kept a list for my mom too when I kept her.

Fay Favored (author) from USA on November 25, 2014:

RTalloni thank you for your kind comment. It's sad we don't take these steps before we need them. I had no idea there was so much to consider until after my husband's heart attack.

RTalloni on November 25, 2014:

Your husband has a lot to be thankful for in having an attentive advocate on his side! Thanks for sharing your tips so others can think through their own needs.

Fay Favored (author) from USA on November 12, 2014:

SandyMertens it really helps to write things down, especially when you are caring for someone else. Thanks for visiting me today.

Sandy Mertens from Frozen Tundra on November 12, 2014:

It is good to write it down. I tend to forget everything when I don't have it written.

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