AMARILLO - Making a list of questions and checking it twice is the best way to get the most out of a doctor’s visit, a Texas Cooperative Extension specialist said.
For some people, a visit to the hospital or physician’s office can be a stressful experience a long drive may have been involved, almost certainly a long wait, said Andrew Crocker, Extension gerontology health specialist.
“By the time you actually see your health professional, you may forget to tell him or her something important,” Crocker said.
He advised patients or their loved ones to take an active role in preparing for health visits in order to take full advantage of time spent with the health professional.
“Most people don’t leave their house for the supermarket without a list of things to buy, right?” he said. “A visit to your health professional should be no different.”
He suggested purchasing a spiral notebook so that all information is kept in the same place. Make a list of questions, comments and concerns before going to the doctor’s office, leaving space to write down any instructions from the health specialist, Crocker said.
The list should include:
Reason for visiting the health provider;
Health concerns and/or complaints, in order of importance, i.e. when did it start, what makes it better or what makes it worse; and
A list of medications, include dosages, reasons for taking that medication, and any side-effects.
Working down this list helps maximize both the patient and health provider’s time, Crocker said.
“Your part of the visit with your health provider includes listening to his or her responses to your questions and concerns,” he said. “Since you left space under each one of your questions, comments or concerns, you should be able to write down the response from your health provider.
“When you get home, you will be able to go over the instructions that your health provider gave you during the office visit,” Crocker said.
Between office visits, make out a new list of questions, comments and concerns.
“Your spiral bound notebook has now become your own health record!” he said. “But remember not to keep personal information in your notebook, such as your Social Security number. This is for your protection in case your notebook is lost or stolen.”
For something more “official” than the spiral notebook, the U.S. Administration on Aging has a publication entitled “Personal Health Care Journal,” which may help individuals “get organized” for a visit with their health provider.
This journal may be downloaded or ordered free from http://www.aoa.gov/press/publications/publications.asp .