How do I make most of my visit?

How many times have you left your doctor’s office without the answers you had been seeking or without having your most concerning problem addressed? Its time you take control over how you want your doctor’s visit to be conducted. This is about empowering you, the patient.

First, think about for what purpose you are scheduling the visit. There are 2 types of visits. They are the Problem Focused or Sick Visit which is used to address a specific concern or concerns, and the Annual or Preventive Medicine Physical which is used to focus more broadly on preventing illness.

For any Problem Focused Visit ,also known as Sick Visit, be prepared. Create a problem list, write it down and prioritize it in the order of most to least problematic. There are 7 basic questions the doctor will need to ask to help diagnose your condition. A good medical history can provide the doctor with 80% of the information he or she needs to make an accurate diagnosis. The questions relate to symptom onset and duration, symptom severity and quality, symptom location and accompanying symptoms. The doctor will also need to know what makes your symptom(s) better and worse. Next, the doctor will perform a focused exam and make an assessment. Diagnostic tests may be ordered. Know what they are for and how to schedule them. Use the office staff to help you. Know what the follow up plan is. If a diagnostic test is performed, be sure you get the result. Don’t ever accept that a no call from the doctor means all is normal. Call the office.

During the Annual Physical, also known as Preventive Medicine Physical Visit you should expect the doctor to guide you through recommendations for healthy living. This should include information on screening tests. The purpose of a screening test is to diagnose illness before symptoms manifest at a time when disease is most curable. Some examples of screening tests include blood testing for cholesterol, colonoscopy, mammogram, and the annual prostate exam. Your physician should also perform a risk assessment for certain common conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Know your family history; it is very important here. The examination is much more detailed than that done at the Focused or Sick Visit. The doctor will start at the head and finish at the toes. You should change into a gown. Important clues to diagnosis can be missed if doctors are forced to work around your clothes. Leave with recommendations for a healthy diet and exercise.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your body is your own and you need to take care of it.... empower yourself!

Best regards,