Tips for a Successful Doctor's Visit: A Patient Guide

Doctors are eager to offer patients quality care that can help individuals take better control of their health. Because physicians are often overworked, providing your physician with facts concerning lifestyle, overall health and medications can help ensure that your checkups and consultations will be thorough, informative and beneficial.

If you have ever left a doctor's office feeling you had not received sufficient information concerning your health, confused by the information you received, or wished you had remembered to ask more questions, try the following 10 tips for a successful doctor's visit.

  • Make a list of any symptoms you are having and remember to discuss them with your doctor.
  • Present questions to your physician at the outset of your visit. This will allow you and your physician the opportunity to fully address your queries and health issues.
  • Be specific about your health issues and symptoms. Limit your discussion and questions to topics pertinent to your visit. Remember that your physician must meet with many other patients who also will need the time and care you require.
  • Be honest. Do not let embarrassment prevent you from answering all of your doctor's questions honestly. A doctor cannot provide adequate care without a complete understanding of your medical history. This includes smoking, dietary indiscretions and failure to take medications.
  • Disclose any adverse side effects that are preventing you from taking your medications as prescribed.
  • No matter the reason, tell your doctor if you are not taking your medications.
  • Take your medication bottles and/or a list of them and the prescribed dosage(s) to your physician.
  • Do not use your health visit to complain about the doctor's staff, office hours, difficulty in scheduling appointments, etc. These issues can and should be addressed separately. Remember that the success of your visit depends upon having your doctor's full attention directed to your health issues.
  • Honor your scheduled appointments and be punctual. Cancellations and postponements should be made at least 24 hours in advance.
  • Smile! Remember that doctors are people. A friendly attitude will help ensure a positive, successful relationship with your physician.

Last Updated: April 25, 2000

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