Most people prepare for job interviews and plan before going on a trip or taking an exam. But how many people actually get ready before going to the doctor’s office?
Preparing for a doctor’s appointment will help you make better decisions about your health, especially if your diagnosis requires medicines or surgery. The following tips will help you get ready for your next appointment and take a more active role in improving your health.
Write Down Your Symptoms/Questions: Be honest and accurate when describing your symptoms, especially if your symptoms vary in frequency and intensity. Write them down in detail and take them with you to your next appointment. You can also write down any questions you want to ask the doctor. Writing everything down will help you avoid forgetting things.
Ask Questions About Your Tests: Your doctor might ask you to take one or more tests before making a diagnosis. Ask about the purpose of the test to understand how the results might impact your health. Also, remember to ask about the cost of the tests, whether they are covered by your insurance, and who will explain the results and when.
Understand Your Diagnosis: The doctor will be ready to make a diagnosis once she fully understands your symptoms and has the results from your tests. She might prescribe medications or other types of treatments. It's important that you fully understand your diagnosis and treatment, and your doctor’s recommendations, so ask questions. If more questions come up while you're at home, write them down and call your doctor or ask about them during your next doctor's appointment. This will help you make better decisions about your health.
Get a Second Opinion: In some cases, you may want to get a second opinion after receiving a diagnosis or certain treatment options. In fact, most doctors like the idea of second opinions, just let them know you intend to get one. Second opinions can give you peace of mind. However, you may want to check your insurance policy to see if it’s covered.
Use an Interpreter: Having good communication with your doctor will help avoid misunderstandings that could result in a wrong diagnosis. If English is not your first language and you're more comfortable speaking in your native language, consider using an interpreter. Call your doctor to see if interpretation services are available. If not, go with someone who can help you with the language barrier. Be mindful when using children as interpreters as you might need to discuss things that are not appropriate for them.
MedlinePlus.gov has more tips and resources on how to talk to your doctor so that you are ready for your next doctor's appointment.