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Cheat Sheet for doctor's visits

  • Make a list of your questions, then sort them in order of importance and ask only the top 3-4 questions. Brevity and time is of the essence.

  • Write down the doctor's answers.

  • If tests are being ordered at an independent lab, have the doctor write "copy to patient" on the script, so you can get a copy sent to you.

  • Don't overload a doctor with all your symptoms. This will tend to shut him/her down.

  • Bring pertinent information and test results from other doctors with you. Do not rely on the doctor's office faxing something. This saves time.

  • Ask the doctor to make pertinent notes in your record (i.e., not sleeping well causing increased flu-like feeling, drowsiness during the daytime, etc.). Many times a doctor tunes this important information out and just simply skips it. Having this information in your record will also be very important for filing for disability.

  • Ask for the longest appointment necessary to meet the number of important matters to be reviewed. Sometimes s/he will have a 40-minute time slot.

  • Consider seeing your primary care physician more frequently, either monthly or bimonthly, when possible. It is easier to catch your PCP up on problems on an ongoing basis than once or twice a year.

  • Try to keep a log of any medication reactions, good and/or negative, that you have. Don't trust your memory.

  • Do not accept abusive behavior from doctors. Many patients feel they have no choice. But abuse—emotional or physical—is not acceptable behavior.