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Preparing for your appointment

Appointment checklist

Depending upon the reason for your provider visit, this checklist can help you prepare.

  1. Gather copies of any tests, x-rays, or medical histories relating to your medical record.
  2. Create a list of all current medications taken on a regular basis, including over-the-counter and herbal medications.
  3. Write down any medical symptoms you have, when they appeared and anything you've done that's made you feel better or worse.
  4. Review your family's history of illnesses or surgeries. "Family" refers to your parents, grandparents on both sides, and siblings.
  5. Bring a paper and a pen so you can take notes during the appointment.
  6. Ask friends or relatives to come with you if you wish. They can take notes and help you remember details discussed with your provider.

Questions to ask

To make the most of your appointment, be sure to ask your doctor any questions or express any concerns you have.

Below are suggested questions to ask your provider. Depending on your symptoms or diagnosis, they may or may not relate to you.

About your symptoms or diagnosis

  • What is the diagnosis?
  • Will the provider be ordering any tests? If so, what he or she is hoping to find out.
  • Where should the test be performed? Please remember that you can chose the laboratory to perform your tests (check with your insurance provider first).
  • When will I know the test results?
  • Will I need more medical tests?
  • How serious is the diagnosis and how will it affect my home and work life?
  • What is the short-term and long-term prognosis for my diagnosis?
  • What caused the diagnosis?
  • What symptoms should I watch for?
  • Do I need a follow-up visit and if so, when?
  • Do I need to take precautions to avoid infecting others?
  • How is the disease or condition treated?

About your treatment

  • What are my treatment options?
  • How long will the treatment take?
  • What is the cost of the treatment?
  • Which treatment is most common for my disease or condition?
  • Is there a generic form of my treatment and is it as effective?
  • What side effects can I expect?
  • What risks and benefits are associated with the treatment?
  • What would happen if I didn’t have any treatment?
  • What would happen if I delay my treatment?
  • Is there anything I should avoid during treatment?
  • What should I do if I have side effects?
  • How will I know if the medication is working?
  • What would I do if I miss a dose of medication?
  • Will my job or lifestyle be affected?
  • What will happen if I decide not to have treatment?

About medicines and tests

If your provider orders testing, please remember that you can chose the laboratory to perform your tests (check with your insurance provider first).

  • What is the name of the medicine or test?
  • Why is it needed?
  • What are the risks?
  • What are potential side effects?
  • Are there alternatives?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Is the cost of the medicine covered by my insurance?
  • How do I take this medicine?
  • How will this medicine react with other medicines I am taking?
  • How do I prepare for each test?

If you need surgery

  • Why do I need surgery?
  • What surgical procedure are you recommending?
  • Is there more than one way of performing this surgery?
  • Are there alternatives to surgery?
  • How much will surgery cost?
  • What are the benefits of having surgery?
  • What are the risks of having surgery?
  • What if I don’t have this surgery?
  • Where can I get a second opinion?
  • What providers perform this type of surgery? Please remember that you can chose where you have the surgery performed (check with your insurance first).
  • What kind of anesthesia will I need?
  • How long will it take me to recover?
  • What type of rehab will I need? Please remember that you can chose where you receive rehab (check with your insurance first).

At the end of your appointment visit

  • When should I return for another visit?
  • When will test results be available?
  • Should I contact you or will you contact me?
  • Be sure to ask for copies of any test results.
  • Are there any danger signs that I need to look for?
  • What else do I need to know?

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