Get the Most Out of Your Doctor Visit
Whether you meet with your doctor once a year or once a month, you should aim to get the most out of every moment you have together. How can you make that happen? Good communication is essential.
“Preparation and participation will help you have a successful doctor’s appointment,” said Ali Hassani, M.D., an internal medicine physician with the NorthBay Center for Primary Care in Vacaville.
Preparation includes having all of your lab tests completed, and being able to share updates from any specialists you’ve seen. It includes keeping track of your blood pressure and blood sugar (if needed) and bringing these records to your appointment. Is there any important information you need to share with your doctor that has happened since your last visit? You don’t want to leave your doctor’s office only to remember hours later questions you forgot to ask.
“I rely on my patients to adequately describe their symptoms and concerns,” Dr. Hassani added. “Think about your symptoms and write them down. When did your pain start? What does it feel like? If you were injured, when did the accident happen and where are you hurt?”
If you have a chronic condition, learn all you can about your disease and be assertive about your care. The more you understand your condition, the more informed your questions can be. Ask if your doctor has brochures, CDs or DVDs to help you understand your condition or treatment.
“Knowledge is power and you are your own best health advocate,” said Dr. Hassani. “But I don’t recommend ‘Dr. Google’ because there is so much information online you may worry yourself needlessly.”
Plan to be totally honest with your doctor. Your doctor must have a complete understanding of your health to give you the best treatment. Don’t let embarrassment prevent you from discussing a topic that may contribute to your current health concerns. Note any changes you’ve noticed in your appetite, weight, sleep or energy level.
~Teresa Whitley, M.D.
Make a list of all your medications, especially if you are taking a variety of drugs. Be sure to include over-the-counter drugs on your list. (It’s a good idea to keep this list in your purse or wallet in case of emergencies.) Make a note to mention any adverse side effects you may have experienced from your medications. If you’ve stopped taking a prescribed medication, be sure to tell your doctor.
You may want to ask a family member to accompany you on your doctor’s visit. Medical information can be complex, and it’s often helpful to have someone who can listen and take notes for you.
“I want everyone to be involved in decision-making,” Dr. Hassani added. “It’s much easier to come up with a workable plan of care for the patient when I have active involvement from the patient and his or her loved ones. If a family member has noticed anything different with the patient, I also encourage them to speak up.
“And please speak up if you miss or don’t understand something. Doctors are happy to repeat anything you need clarification on.”
Finally, if you are seeing a new doctor, plan to make your old medical records available to him or her. It is helpful to provide your new physician with your previous physician’s name, address and phone number.
Meet our Physicians: Internal Medicine
Amanda Adkins, M.D.Fairfield
Kulbir Bajwa, M.D.Vacaville
Madhav Goyal, M.D.Vacaville
Ali Hassani, M.D.Vacaville
Michelle Katzaroff, D.O.Green Valley
Loc Tan Nguyen, M.D.Fairfield
Levon Tchakmakjian, M.D.Fairfield
Teresa Whitley, M.D.Vacaville