Make The Most of Your Doctor’s Appointments
By Jennifer Kelly Geddes
Making the most of your Dr. appointments. No one looks forward to scheduling dental work or a mammogram, but seeing a physician for an annual checkup is a smart idea. Regular doctor’s appointments are a great way to prevent complications later, as treatment is often easier when problems are caught early. Dr. Frank Vittimberga tells you how to start the year off right with smart advice on how to prepare for your next doctor appointment.
Tip No. 1: Shop Around for the Right Fit
“Finding a doctor is like dating — sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs before you meet your prince,” says Vittimberga, a general surgeon in Dallas. Cast a broad net as you look, ask friends and colleagues for suggestions, and contact your insurer for a list of providers in your area.
Tip No. 2: Do the Due Diligence
A little homework is in order once you’ve created a list of doctors. Research their backgrounds, training and board certifications, and then look them up on your state’s medical board website for any malpractice cases or reprimands on record.
Tip No. 3: Get Your Ducks in a Row
Of course you’ll arrive on time with your insurance card, referral form and any pertinent test results, but you should also bring a written record describing any pain or symptoms you’ve been experiencing, as you may not remember all the details.
Tip No. 4: Don’t Bend the Truth
If you smoke, fess up, and if you drink, don’t say two a week if it’s more like four. Your daily habits — including diet and exercise, and your personal and family history — may affect the exam, the prescriptions you’re given … and even the diagnosis.
Tip No. 5: Be Inquisitive
Jot down a list of questions you want to ask, and don’t be shy if you have more than a few follow-ups. In fact, if you don’t understand what the doctor is saying — whether it’s about the medication, the testing you’ll need, or the risks involved, speak up.
Tip No. 6: Bring Backup
Worried about the outcome, or just need a shoulder to lean on? Ask a friend or a family member to accompany you to the appointment. A pal can lend support and help you take notes so you don’t miss a thing.
No. 7: Break up the Right Way
“Don’t be afraid to end the relationship if it’s
not working out,” advises Vittimberga. But be honest — if you’re not willing
to listen and participate, changing doctors may not help.
Jennifer Kelly Geddesis a New York-based writer and editor who has written for Parenting, iVillage.com and Time Out New York Kids. She frequently contributes to Go Vibrant.