Managing your next Doctor’s Appointment

Upcoming doctor appointments can be very stressful events. There can be so many unknowns going into them, especially if you’re following up on something from a previous visit. However, there are a some simple tasks that you can do to make sure that you’re covering all your bases. Having worked in a local ER, orthopedics and family medicine clinic over the last 14 years, here are a few things that will make your appointment go that much smoother.

  1. Make sure you have an up-to-date medicare and/or hospital card.

    – Without a valid medicare card, you can be charged for the visit. Some places will require that you pay upfront, some may take insurance and others will send you a bill. They can be quite pricey, so best to be prepared.

    – If your hospital card is not up-to-date, make sure you give yourself enough time to go and update it before your scheduled appointment to prevent any delays. This needs to be up-to-date should they need to contact you afterwards about your results.

  2. Make sure you have a list of your current medications/allergies with you.

    – This is something you will likely be asked. If your medications have changed recently, you can get a print out from your pharmacy.

    – If you are allergic to any medications, make sure you let the health professional know. It’s also best to know the type of reaction you have when you take it.

  3. Write down your symptoms before the appointment.

    – Often, people get flustered when they see the doctor and forget to mention important details. If you write them down, it’ll remind you to relay that information to your doctor. Doctors have very large caseloads and often have a limited amount of time with you, use it wisely.

  4. Before you leave, make sure you understand your diagnosis and the treatment required.

    – Ask what the issue is. Know the medical term and the general term.

    – Ask what to do to fix it. Know what is expected of you to get better.

    – Ask why it’s important to follow this particular treatment. Understanding makes the treatment easier to follow.

  5. Make sure you have copies of any prescriptions/referrals.

    – You’d be surprised how often people leave before getting their prescription and then need to come back to get it.

    – If you have a follow up with a specialist, ask for a copy of the referral. This is your proof that it’s been requested and it usually has contact information in case it gets lost. Unfortunately, this happens sometimes even in the most well organized places.

These may seem like very obvious and simple tasks but you’d be surprised how often they are forgotten when emotions are running high. I know that I’ve been guilty of a couple of these things too as a patient over the years, so I’ve seen it from both sides. Remember, this is your health and while health professionals are the experts and there to guide you, you have a responsibility to yourself too. Being proactive about your healthcare is an important one. This is why I thought this little cheat sheet might be helpful.

Do you have any other tips to add?

Let me know in the comments!

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Headshot of Sami Grosse

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