How to Get the Most of Your Medical Consultation

  • Prepare yourself: Before meeting the doctor, you should be well prepared. A well-prepared patient is not only able to get the most from the consultation but is also able to make the doctor’s task easy. For example, the doctor may be better able to arrive at a proper diagnosis if the patient is well prepared. Make sure that you bring or have digital access to all of your important medical records. If you are referred by some other doctor, remember to carry the referral letter from that doctor as well. All points and questions that are to be discussed with the doctor should be clearly noted down. Also, remember to jot down all the important points mentioned by the doctor so that you do not have to inquire again. If you need any clarification regarding the medicine or mode of treatment, remember to ask the doctor then and there itself.
  • Explain all symptoms clearly: If you have more than one symptom, clearly note down the same in chronological order starting from the date the symptom first appeared. If there is any factor like food, movement, or climate change that makes your symptom better or worse, remember to explain that as well. If you have undertaken any self-medication or tried any over the counter drugs, inform the same to the doctor. If you have consulted any other doctor in relation to the same symptom, be sure to mention that as well.
  • Ask questions: Once you have explained your symptom and the doctor reaches a conclusion, ask him directly what his diagnosis is. Since you are the person suffering from the condition, you have the right to know your doctor’s diagnosis. If you are unsure about the condition, you can ask the doctor to explain it clearly. Remember to get the complete medical name so that you can cross check it later on. If the diagnosis is something that is going to affect your future, ask the doctor to explain it. You can also ask him ways to prevent the reoccurrence of the disease.
  • Never lie: Lying before a doctor will cause only harm to you. Hence, remember to always tell the truth even if it is embarrassing. If you have not taken the medicine as specified by the doctor, make it clear to him. Otherwise, the doctor will reach the conclusion that he has given you the wrong dose, the wrong medicine or the wrong diagnosis.
  • Take your partner or friend along: It is always a good idea to take your partner or a close friend when you go in for a consultation. Sometimes you may not clearly understand what the doctor explained, or you might forget to ask some relevant questions. A partner or friend will be able to help you out in such situation. Not all doctors encourage having someone else in the room when the diagnosis is going on. Before selecting a doctor makes sure that he is comfortable having your friend or partner with you.
  • Show respect: Respect and pleasing manners can help a lot in building a good doctor-patient relationship. Ask your questions and express any doubts in a polite manner so that the doctor feels like explaining it to you. Never show aggressive or rude behavior or pretend that you know everything. Doctors are humans too and likely to respond better when you are friendly and polite.
  • Keep the original report: If you are advised some tests or is referred by some other doctor, you will have some reports with you. Remember to keep the original report with you and hand over only the photocopy to the doctor. If you have not understood any of the condition mentioned in the report, remember to ask about the same.
  • Do not take caffeine: Checking the blood pressure is a part of a physician office visit. Avoid taking caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee, and cola at least an hour before the doctor’s consultation as caffeine can alter your blood pressure. The same applies to smoking as well.
  • Dress appropriately: It is always advisable to wear an appropriate dress when you go for a doctor consultation. For example, if you are going to meet a gynecologist, no need to wear a figure-hugging jean. Similarly, if you think that the doctor might recommend a blood test, wear a short sleeve shirt/top.
  • Don’t empty the bladder: There are some situations in which the doctor will recommend obtaining a urine sample test or doing a scan. If you feel that the doctor might recommend the same, or an ultrasound scan of your abdomen, make sure that you do not pass the urine before your visit.
  • Come at the right time of appointment. Never try to be late as it can annoy both the doctor and the hospital staff.
  • Never explain your diagnosis to the doctor. Let the doctor come to his/her own conclusion.
  • If you are allergic to any medication, tell the doctor beforehand so that he can prescribe the correct medicine.



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The Doctor Weighs In

The Doctor Weighs In

Dr. Patricia Salber and friends weigh in on leading news in health and healthcare