What to do before your appointment
Sometimes medical appointments can feel hurried or rushed, but you can make the most of them by preparing beforehand. Here are a few tips to help you get ready for your next appointment.
Write down a list of your questions and concerns, including:
- Symptoms, family history, or exposure to other people who've been ill
- Questions you have, such as: "Why am I feeling this way?" and "What else can I be doing to feel better?" For more tips on asking questions see below.
- All medications you currently take, including over-the-counter meds, prescriptions, vitamins, and herbal remedies. Or, put all of them in a bag and bring it to your appointment. Any allergies you have. Note any bad reactions you have had to medications.
Think about asking someone to go with you
- Consider asking a trusted friend or family member to come with you, especially if you feel ill or have serious health problems. This person can help listen, take notes, and help you remember what was said.
- You may want to learn more about your symptoms or your diagnosis before your appointment. This can help you understand what your doctor tells you. It can also help you know what questions you want to ask during your appointment.
- Resources: Your library, your health plan, and trustworthy websites. View this brochure for more tips and information on finding trustworthy health information on the web.
Questions to ask during your appointment
As a patient, it's very important for you to be informed and involved in your health care. That means being prepared and asking questions during your medical appointment.
Be sure you:
- Explain why you made your appointment.
- Answer the doctor's questions as completely as you can.
- Understand your doctor's diagnosis and recommendations. If questions come up, write them down.
- Ask your questions.
- Know what the next steps are for your treatment.
Sometimes, people are shy about asking questions. But remember, no one knows your health like you. You deserve to understand what your doctor or health professional is telling you.
Here are some good questions to ask for more information:
- Why is it important for me to have this treatment?
- How will this treatment help? Do I have other choices?
- Excuse me, I didn't understand what you said. Can you say it again in a different way?
- What is this test for? What will we learn from doing this test?
- What side effects do I need to watch for?
- Once my child starts on this medicine, how soon should she be feeling better?
Many medical terms can sound complicated. It's okay to ask your doctor or health professional to explain things differently so that it's easier for you to understand. See example below for help:
What to do after your appointment
Much of your health is determined by what you do outside your doctor's office. Be sure to follow these tips:
- Do your part to follow through: Come in for a test, schedule a follow-up appointment, try a new medication, or follow your treatment plan.
- Watch for possible problems. If you notice new symptoms or problems, let your doctor know right away.
- Call your doctor's office if you have new questions or if you were expecting to get test results and haven't heard from anyone.
- Learn more. Do you have a new diagnosis? A different medication? Learning more helps you do a better job of managing your own health. In addition to talking asking your doctor and other health professionals for information, you can also check out the resource library on this website.