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Have a Great Doctor's Appointment

Updated on February 11, 2010

Take Charge of Your Health

Acute visits are appointments with the health care provider that revolve around a specific complaint. Common examples of acute visits are cold symptoms, fever, stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation and weight loss. Use this visit to focus on the current problem and not to discuss multiple other problems. Acute visits are usually set up for short periods of time, often only 10 minutes. There is limited time, so use that time wisely.

Come to the appointment prepared. Filling out the acute visit form (see link below) before the appointment assures proper information is transmitted to your health care provider. When acutely ill, a prepared history can significantly enhance the doctor’s ability to accurately diagnosis and treat the problem. Diagnosis can be made the majority of the time with only a history if the right questions are answered. The problem is that the right questions are not always asked. Solution: answer the questions before they are asked.

The next part of the acute visit is the physical exam that is preformed to confirm the findings on history. If the history and physical are inconclusive, diagnostic tests are ordered.

Many of these tests can be eliminated with the use of a good history and physical exam. While many diagnostic tests are necessary to make the diagnosis, many are not necessary and may cause more harm than good. No test is without risk including immediate risk from the test such as risk of infection with a blood draw or long-term risk such as exposure to radiation from x-rays, CAT scans and MRIs. Question your health care provider about the need for any diagnostic test.

  • Is this the best test to evaluate my problem?
  • What preparation should I make for the test?
  • What is the possibility that this test will not affect treatment or diagnosis?
  • How accurate are the tests?
  • Is the test safe?
  • What are the risks?

Steps in Preparing for an Acute Visit - Record Information

  1. Record information about the visit.
  2. Record the name of the doctor you are seeing and the date you are seeing him.
  3. Describe why you are seeing the doctor.
  4. Describe the symptoms you are presenting with.
  5. While at the appointment have the doctor give you a diagnosis and record it.
  6. Record the treatment including medications ordered, how to take the medications and side effects.
  7. Record any follow up recommended by the doctor including: when to follow up, any situations that would require you to follow up sooner, any information that the doctor wants you to track to help her in the evaluation of the effectiveness of treatment.
  8. Record any testing recommended by the doctor.



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      Kelly 8 years ago

      Taking notes at the doctor's office is a great idea. Thanks.

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      Susan 8 years ago

      I will try this at my next doctor visit. I never remember what the doctor says.