Get the Most From Your Doctor's Visit

Mar 09, 2011, 08:07 ET from The Polyclinic

SEATTLE, March 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The key to getting the most out of your doctor's visit is to plan ahead.  Doctors do have to see a lot of patients every day, so the better prepared you are, the more productive your visit will be – and that benefits both you and your doctor.

"If it's your first visit to a doctor, bring any past health records to help your recall your health history," suggests John Verrilli, MD, internist at The Polyclinic in Seattle and a member of their Partnership in Health program.  "You should also bring a list of any medications you're taking and dosages, or simply bring the bottles of medications themselves.  And be totally honest with your doctor about whether you've been taking your prescriptions, plus any supplements, herbs or vitamins as they can alter or interfere with the effects of prescription medications."

To make sure that you accomplish everything you want at the appointment, Dr. Verrilli suggests writing down the three most important concerns you want to discuss and bring that list with you.  Take notes as you talk with your doctor, and if you think you'll have any trouble understanding or remembering what the doctor says, bring a friend or family member to help.

"Despite our best efforts, doctors sometimes do slip into medical jargon, and we really do want patients to understand what's going on," explained Dr. Verrilli.  "So if the doctor uses words you don't understand or you don't feel clear about an explanation or advice they've given, just say so."

When scheduling your appointment, ask if you need to have any lab work or other tests prior to the visit.  If you're expected to have lab tests that day, see if you need to fast or do any other preparation so that you can take care of everything the same day.  If you feel you have more issues to discuss than time allows, ask if you can schedule a longer appointment than is usually allotted.

At your appointment, ask if you are due for any screenings based on your age or health history (e.g. bone density, colorectal exam, mammogram), and schedule those appointments before you leave.  See if you need to schedule a follow-up visit to review any results.  Also, if you need prescriptions refilled, tell your doctor before you go.  If you've been prescribed new medication, be sure you understand what it's for and how and when to take it.

Remember, there are no silly questions.  "Doctors have pretty much heard it all – you won't shock them," said Dr. Verrilli.  "It's your body, and if you have a question about something, ask.  We're here to help, and we can only help if you talk to us."

About The Polyclinic

The Polyclinic is made up of more than 160 physicians, including internal medicine, family medicine, OB/GYN, pediatrics, and 23 additional medical and surgical specialties.  Since its inception in 1917, The Polyclinic's mission has been to promote the health of its patients through high-quality, comprehensive and personalized care.  For more information, visit

SOURCE The Polyclinic