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5 Steps to Effective Medical Care Visits

Updated on August 17, 2016

Just Ask!

No question is a wrong one when it comes to your health.
No question is a wrong one when it comes to your health.

You Can Get Answers by Being Prepared

How many times have you gone to the doctor’s and not been satisfied with your visit? I know that I seem to have a ton of questions for the physician, but when I’ve arrived at the office they’re gone from my thinking.

With recent heath issues of my husband I’ve been much better at being prepared for each of his appointments. Here are a few tips that can help make your medical visits more useful and productive.


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Carry a Writing Tablet

Always carry something to take down notes of your visit.
Always carry something to take down notes of your visit.

1 - Write it Down

Those questions are important and so are you. Getting them answered can relieve stress, confusion and stop improper treatment.

Be sure to be prepared by writing down your questions the week before your visit. Or write them when they come to mind. Post them near a place where you won’t forget to take the list with you when your appointment date comes.


Ask the Doctor

How often have you forgotten to ask the doctor a question?

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One of the first things I noticed when we began the extensive doctor visits to all the specialists is that some of the patients carried a notebook with all the things they acquired over their extensive health care.

After the first visit I realized why. Now I write things in a steno pad and just bring the tablet with us every time we go, this way it is always a habit.


If you are a heart patient, always remember to bring your medicines with you in a zip bag,

even if you think you may not need them.

Be sure to keep them away from heat or direct light.

I carry ours in a tote bag with a notebook and pen.

Invest in A Quality Tote - You'll Need One

Calvin Klein Leather Travel Tote,Black/Gold,One Size
Calvin Klein Leather Travel Tote,Black/Gold,One Size

Having a large bag to carry all the papers for my husband's doctor visits really helped me. There were so many things that needed to be remembered for each doctor that it was important that I always carry a tote.

This one is a beautiful 100% Leather tote and it comes in three colors: black/gold, luggage/black and Merlot.

There is an inside zipper and keyring snap so you won't lose your keys.

Imported polyester lining with outside snap closure.


They're Ready to Listen

You physician is interested in your concerns.
You physician is interested in your concerns. | Source

2 -Talk about Your Concerns

The doctor isn't a mind reader. Tell them what is on your mind, no matter how insignificant you think it is.

Don’t be afraid to bring up all your concerns during your time with the doctor or staff. They can’t read your mind and aren’t with you on a regular basis, so they don’t know what is effecting your health.

Make sure to ask about any foods or other medications that may interfere with your progress, like can you take vitamins with the medication you are currently taking? Some vitamins will affect the effectiveness of medicines and should be avoided.

Let the doctor know of any health changes you’ve been experiencing by listing your symptoms, when and how often you’re getting them. For example, be sure to specify any redness, nausea, dizziness, swelling, etc.

If needed, say that you don’t understand what the doctor is telling you about your condition. Ask the physician to define any medical terms in words that you can relate to in your diagnosis and treatment. You cannot do what you don’t understand. No question is dumb, so ask.

Healing the Whole You

Is it all right if I exercise?  How much can I do?  How often?
Is it all right if I exercise? How much can I do? How often? | Source

3 - What Else Can I Do?

It's not always about taking your medications. You health is much more than a pill.

Find out if there are other things you can do to aid in your recovery besides taking any medicine. This is an area we were continually exploring after my husband’s heart attack.

My husband had to wait for paperwork to be done by several agencies before he could begin physical therapy at the heart clinic. This put his therapy way behind schedule so we had to look for an alternative place until he could be switched. Later when he needed other care for specialist appointments the attending heart doctor was on vacation and the nurse was out on sick leave. These things happen, so be prepared to make any changes if need be so that your progress is not hindered.

While waiting for an official medical form, the heart clinic nurse found another facility for us at the community senior center. It allows heart care patients to use their exercise equipment even if they aren’t senior citizens, as long as they have a letter from their doctor.

You are the only one who knows how you really feel. Find out what else you can do right away and add to it as you progress. It's not about being able to run a mile or ride across town on a bike. Everyone heals at a different pace and you may find that what works for others may not be the best method for your wellness.

There is usually a solution if everyone gets involved.

4 - Review the Visit

Before leaving your appointment, review all you discussed during the visit, making sure to tie up loose ends. You’d be surprised at what you’ve left out or already forgotten.

Write down new things in your notebook or journal before leaving the room. Keep this journal handy at home and while you are out to jot down questions that come to mind for your next appointment.

TOPS Spiral Steno Pad Books

TOPS Spiral Steno Books, 6 x 9 Inches, Gregg Rule, White Paper, Assorted Covers, 80 Sheets per Book, 4 Books per Pack (80220)
TOPS Spiral Steno Books, 6 x 9 Inches, Gregg Rule, White Paper, Assorted Covers, 80 Sheets per Book, 4 Books per Pack (80220)

Be sure that you have a large enough notebook for all of your doctor visits. My husband had an team of doctors for over a year and each one required different information for each visit, plus we had to keep track of all the new instructions.

For me I use spiral steno pads all the time, not only for my writing but for his appointments also. They fit nicely in a tote bag or large purse.

I like to use different colors so I can keep track of everything (to help keep doctor or patient note taking separate.)


Next Time ...

Be sure to have your next appointment information in your hand before leaving your doctor's visit.
Be sure to have your next appointment information in your hand before leaving your doctor's visit.

5 - Take Care of Future Appointments Now

Be sure to take care of scheduling new appointments or follow-up dates when you are at the doctor’s. Many times this is forgotten and getting a specific date needed is hard to do later. You don’t want to be put on a waiting list, so take care of this right then if you can.

Have the attending staff or clerical personal give you a card with the date and time listed. Put it on the refrigerator or in your appointment book as soon as you get home.


On Your Way to Better Health Care

In taking these pro-active steps you will find that each of your doctor’s appointments will be more productive, because you went prepared. Your anxiety levels will drop knowing that you have already made provision for the day.

You’ll find that when you take into account these steps your doctor and medical personal will be able to serve you better, and you will come away having more understanding to your health needs.

The 5 Steps in Review

  1. Write it Down

  2. Talk About Your Concerns

  3. What Else Can I Do?

  4. Review the Visit

  5. Make A New Appointment Now

Blessings for A Speedy Recovery!

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5 Steps to Effective Medical Care Visits

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© 2014 Fay Favored

What do you do to help your doctor visit go smoothly?

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    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 21 months ago from USA

      Sylvestermouse this is an issue I think is ongoing for most of us. I now keep a small tablet and pen in my pocket, because questions may come to mind in the middle of doing something else.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 21 months ago from United States

      This is excellent advice! It truly is amazing that no matter how closely we are listening to a doctor, we will still forget some things that are said that may well be important. Writing down the questions in advance is also imperative. I often forget what I meant to ask if I don't have a list. Thanks for sharing your advice based on experience.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 22 months ago from USA

      I find that if I don't write things down I usually forget what I wanted to ask while in the doctor's office. This is a habit that I actually want to keep :)

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 23 months ago from Canada

      That first step is a biggie. I write everything down before I go to the doctor so I won't forget to ask something. Writing what the doctor says down is a good idea in reverse.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 23 months ago from USA

      They have worked every time peachpurple. It's a good back up to our brain :)

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      great tips, these notes are helpful during visit to the hospitals

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 24 months ago from USA

      BarbRad yes it's important to keep a running current list of the medications. We also bring the medication to each visit. Seems the always need to see the bottle as well, at least his doctors do. Thanks for visiting and the good suggestion.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 24 months ago from Templeton, CA

      Those are really useful tips. One other thing you might make sure is in that notebook you take with you is a list of all your medications. You will need it for the paperwork everywhere you go. I usually keep it on a printed paper they can make a copy of at the office and give back to me. It's also good to take your medical history, especially dates and descriptions of any past surgeries. They always want that, too, and I can't always remember.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 2 years ago from USA

      peachpurple thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      thanks for the tip, must jot them down

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 2 years ago from USA

      Lady Guinevere I know what you mean. That happens all the time it seems. With the medications my husband is on I need to write down all the changes while I'm sitting in the doctor's office with him to keep track. Good to see you.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 2 years ago from West By God

      Yes, write it down. Last time that I went to the doctr they told me when to take the packing out and before I got home 15 minutes later, I forget what he told me.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 2 years ago from USA

      SandyMertens I know exactly what you mean. It seems that I have tons of questions, but all fly out of my thinking when I'm in the doctor's office. Writing them down takes practice.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 2 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      I know that I am due for an office visit. My mind goes blank when I am there. Good to write it all down.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 2 years ago from USA

      DDE Taking notes before and during doctor visits is a good idea. Wish I would have done it before the crisis came. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Medical care visits are important and making notes of each is crucial to other visits. To compare the differences if any. A n excellent idea!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 2 years ago from USA

      Pawpawwrites it's a good habit to get into. Nice to see you.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 2 years ago from Kansas

      Writing down your question, is a great idea. I do it myself.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 2 years ago from USA

      Jackie Lynnley we'll be praying, please keep us posted how things go.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      It was not the doctor actually that kept my notes but the nurse. I will be having surgery after Christmas but I thank you for your prayers. We can never have too many of those. ( I can't for sure.) It stems from an injury I had when I was 16 and that is more years ago than I will admit to! lol One of the big symptoms of this is an exaggerated reflex which I have had so many doctors laugh at when if they had only know it was a big clue to my problem. So if you know anyone with that symptom; let them know it could be from a spinal injury that can affect A to Z in the body!


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