Sometimes when we visit our doctor, we presume that he or she should know everything about us; every problem we have visited them about before and our medical history from years past. Occasionally we get uptight if a doctor asks a question and we think to ourselves, “He (or she) should know that about me.” No doctor can do this! Most of them have dozens of patients to see in a day and that is one reason that they rely on your chart to cue them in to past visits. There are several things you can do to help your doctor give you his or her best care.
First, you are the patient-so be patient! When medications are changed or new instructions are given this is usually written in your chart and filed in a place readily accessible to the doctor as he or she flips through your record. There are times when papers get out of place and the doctor must hunt for those new instructions and/ or lab results that have recently come in. Possible he or she need to compare these results with past test results. In order to treat your condition adequately, your doctor needs to take a few moments to study what’s there or ask the nurse to retrieve results that may not have been filed as yet. Again, be patient. This will only help your situation in the long run.
Next, be an informant. Your provider cannot remember all that you may have told him or her on your last visit. There may be things you forgot to tell him. Or maybe you have had some recently new symptoms. For example, you may have had an elevated temperature yesterday at home but today while you have been at his or her office, you have not experienced a fever. The doctor needs to know this info. If some pain or discomfort you have been having had worsened or is now in a different place, don’t just say, “I’m still in pain.” Tell the doctor the new developments. He or she needs to know ANY changes in your condition. Good descriptions are important. Don’t just say, “My knee hurts.” Describe the pain. For instance say, “I have a sharp continuous pain in my knee.” If you have a stomachache, don’t just state, “My stomach hurts. ” Be descriptive and tell the doctor, “The pain is sharp and is in my upper stomach. It hurts just after I eat in the early morning.” It is also better if you can take one finger and point to the spot Using your entire hand is not usually specific enough. If someone who lives in your household has been ill, you need to let the doctor know. You may have contracted what that person has had. It is also very important to inform the doctor about any problems you are having with any medication. This means ANY meds-even over-the-counter ones. The problem may be a side effect or an allergy and needs to be reported immediately. It is extremely important to let the doctor know exactly when the problem began. Then he or she can draw a parallel between the beginning of the medication or medications and the symptoms you are experiencing. If there is a correlation, the doctor will need to note it on a conspicuous place in your chart so he or she will not prescribe it in the future.
Ask questions, especially if you don’t understand something the doctor said. Doctors are really good at explaining things. It is better to get things clear before you leave the office than to have to attempt to call back and get hold of the doctor later. Most of the time you have be content with leaving a message and waiting for the doctor to get back to you. If the doctor gets away before you can ask a question, refer it to the nurse. Most nurses who accompany doctors know as much information about the patient as the doctor. The doctor relies on the nurse to keep him or her informed and “in the loop” so don’t be afraid to ask.
These are some ways to make your next check-up at your doctor’s office a good one. You will feel like your doctor has given you the attention you deserve and that you have received the very best of medical care.