I find it absolutely amazing how many people go to a doctor and just expect him/her to come up with all the answers in a ten minute meeting. I'm not sure how you can expect someone to figure out what's wrong with you in such a short period of time. No doctor can do this unless you've got a broken bone sticking out of your skin.
You have to help yourself to get the medical care you deserve. You have to do WORK. You can't rely on someone to know all of your complaints, medical history and family history without laying it out for whomever you are seeing to get a diagnosis or follow up for a disease.
You might argue that if you give a doctor too much information, he/she will think you are a hypochondriac. If you are NOT a hypochondriac and the doctor thinks you are, you have several options:
- You can walk out of the office right then and there. This doctor is not the doctor for you.
- You can fire the doctor after the appointment.
- You can file a complaint with the doctor's office and the State Medical Board.
There is no reason for a doctor to dismiss you or treat you as a hypochondriac because you are acting like you want to get well.
Homework before an appointment. Get a binder and compile the following information.
- I can't stress enough that making a clear comprehensive list of your symptoms in a logical order (top down or body system) will help your doctor. Date this list and keep a copy. Make a copy for your doctor. Stay away from mental symptoms specifically if you're female. Depression is a catchall.
- Personal heath history, list diagnoses that you already have, head injuries, body parts that have been removed. Date it, copy it, put one copy in your binder give the doctor the other copy.
- List all medicines and supplements you take. Note the times you take them and doses. Date it, copy it, put one copy in your binder give the doctor the other copy.
- Family history of causes of death and diseases. Date it, copy it, put one copy in your binder give the doctor the other copy.
- Most important page:
- Make a list of the three most important questions for your doctor. Leave plenty of space to fill in the answers.
- List the meds for which you need refills.
- Name of med
- How taken
- How many day supply
- List the tests you would like to have run and the CPT code if they are unusual tests. It might be helpful to list why you want them as well. Some of us get a little nervous and can't remember things when push come to shove. Know if the tests (like renin and electrolytes) need to be done fasting so they don't just heard you into the lab. As a general rule, I like to have all of my tests run at 8 am, fasting so I am ALWAYS limiting as many variables as possible and trying to get the most accurate test results that I can get.
- Date it, copy it, put one copy in your binder give the doctor the other copy.
- Get copies of all of your medical records and labs as far back as you can. If you reside in the US, you are legally entitled to all of your medical records. If you are refused your medical records, you need to file a HIPAA Complaint. I keep mine in a binder arranged by year. Bring the binder to your appointment! All the doctors that I think are great have appreciated the binder. All the most horrible doctors have attempted to put me down because of it.
- Have your copies of your papers in your binder.
- Leave the doctor's copies loose. If you have an advocate with you, allow the advocate to handle the distribution of the paperwork to the doctor AND take notes for you. You take notes as well.
During the appointment, breathe deeply and relax.
- Allow the doctor to enter the room and make whatever small talk needs to be made.
- When the doctor asks about your symptoms, hand over the Symptoms page. When the doctor asks about your meds, hand the Med List over. History, do the same.
- When he or she asks if you have any questions, hand over the "Most important page". You deserve to have all three of those questions answered if they haven't been. Go get 'em tiger!