Best Rx: Atlanta Doctors Answer Your Questions

Sylvia E. Morris, MD, MPH of Emory University School of Medicine, Division of Hospital Medicine answers readers’ questions

What should you do to get the most out of your meeting with the doctor?
In an increasingly complicated medical system, it is a good idea for patients to prepare for their appointments with the doctor. Planning ahead will help you become an informed and empowered patient. A strategy we would recommend to our patients would include writing out any questions the night before the appointment, and if patients are taking numerous medications, it’s useful to put prescription containers in a bag to bring along. This helps patients remember what they are taking, and the details on the containers give the doctor important information. If it is a critical visit, it’s advantageous to take someone along to be a second set of ears. If it is a first visit with a new physician, or if outside tests have been done, patients should be sure the health records arrive a week before the appointment. To avoid stress, patients should try to leave plenty of time to get to the doctor’s office, and a 20-minute buffer to fill out paperwork. Once the physician is in the examination room, it’s time to ask questions and to remember the only dumb question is the unasked question. Before leaving the office, it’s important to understand the treatment plan and how to take the medications, and be aware of any side effects. Finally, don’t forget to make the next appointment!

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