Whether you’re a patient at one of our offices, seeing your general practitioner for a checkup or visiting a specialist or hospital for a more serious reason, keep these tips in mind:
Know your history. Don’t skimp or be secretive when telling your healthcare provider your family and health history. Instead of trying to remember everything each time you visit a new doctor, make a list of your major medical history and your family’s history and keep it in a file. Bring this information with you to new doctor’s appointments.
Know your medications and supplements. It might not seem important to tell your doctor you’re taking a supplement like vitamin E, but this supplement can inhibit some medications. Have a list of your medications and supplements on hand or bring the bottles with you to your appointment.
Ask about your doctor’s history. If you were hiring a nanny or a lawyer, wouldn’t you ask about that person’s experience and expertise? Of course you would. Don’t be intimidated to confirm that the doctor is board certified or ask where the doctor studied, where they performed their residency or other credentials you’d like to know about. You can also call the receptionist to ask these questions if you’re uncomfortable asking the doctor directly—but we encourage you to talk to your doctor; it shows you are active in your healthcare.
Research your doctors. This is another way to find information about your doctor. There are quite a few sites that list information about doctors, as well as reviews from patients. Check out: http://www.healthgrades.com, http://www.vitals.com, http://www.ucomparehealthcare.com and http://www.ratemds.com.
Get a second opinion. This is especially important if you were assigned an aggressive treatment plan such as surgery or long-term medication use. Consult another doctor or specialist to be sure your diagnosis is accurate and the treatment is necessary.
Bring a friend. Having a friend or family member with you not only provides mental and emotional support, but they can also help you ask the right questions and remember important aspects of your appointment. If you do bring a friend or family member, ask them to take notes while you listen to the doctor.
Ask questions! This is the most important tip when it comes to your health. Don’t be afraid to ask any and every question. You have a right to know and a right to be informed. And if you forget something, don’t be afraid to give them a call back.
Last, but not least, don’t ever be afraid to switch doctors if you feel like you are not receiving the care or treatment you deserve.