It may have been a while since you had a medical appointment, or perhaps you have the “white coat syndrome” making you nervous when you have an appointment. Plan to make the most of the time you have with your health care provider. You may be asked to complete some forms when you arrive. It can be difficult to remember when you had that surgery, or the medical issues that run in the family. Take the time to gather the information and think about what you want to ask while at your appointment.
As you prepare, write it down and take the notes with you to the appointment. Find out if you can have someone with you during the appointment. If you want an interpreter, let the office know in advance.
If you are the caregiver, similar preparation is needed.
Why are you going to the medical appointment?
This may sound like an obvious question; however, you want to give it some thought ahead of time. If you are seeing your primary care provider, think about how you have been feeling and any changes in activities of daily living. Have there been changes in your sight, hearing, balance, pain, sleep patterns, eating, weight gain or weight loss? Differences in your physical activity level? Ask friends or family if they have noticed any changes that you might want to make the medical team aware of.
If you are seeing a specialist, think about why you have been sent to the specialist. And if you are unsure why you are seeing the specialist, ask.
What is your health history and what is your family health history?
What medical issues do family members have? These may run in the family and are important for your medical team to know.
How is your mental health?
Have you been experiencing stress? Have there been major changes in your life recently? Talk to your medical provider about how you are feeling.
What other tests or labs have you had recently?
Ask the medical team to tell you what the results mean.
If they tell you to have labs, blood work, an X-ray or other tests after the appointment, ask them why the tests are being ordered.
What should I take with me to an appointment?
• Insurance card.
• At a minimum, a list of your medications. Better yet take the medication bottles with you because the label includes dosage and how often you take it. Include a list of the over-the-counter medications.
• When you make your appointment, ask if they have a health history form that can be sent to you. If you are enrolled in the provider’s electronic record, there may be a form available online that you can complete ahead of time. There are health history forms on the internet to help you prepare for your appointment. Johns Hopkins’ Patient History form is available on the internet. www.hopkinsmedicine.org.
• A note pad. Your health care provider will be happy that you are so engaged. Remember, you are part of your health care team.
If you have a question you want answered, go to abqjournal.com, click on “opinion” and “submit a letter or column.”