Getting the Most from the Doctor Visit

Accompanying the patient on visits to the doctor or other healthcare provider visit is an important role for a family member or caregiver. To help maximize the time and interaction with the physician or other healthcare provider we offer the following suggestions:

  • Discuss symptoms the patient is having with the patient before the appointment to give them practice describing the symptoms
  • Write down your questions and those of the patient before you go
  • Be sure the patient takes his or her Medicare card and other payor information
  • Be sure the patient takes a list of all medications and the doses including all nonprescription or over-the-counter medicines and vitamins
  • Be ready to provide the patient's medical history
  • Take copies of recent x-rays or other diagnostic reports
  • Take notes during the discussion
  • Don't be afraid to speak up and ask for clarification. Ask for things to be further clarified or explained. If clinical or medical terms are used that you do not understand, ask for an explanation.
  • Ask for written materials on any condition diagnosed or any surgery recommend
  • Ask about the overall treatment plan
  • Ask about warning signs and limitations. Ask if there are specific things the patient should or should not do and if there are signs that would indicate the patient is getting worse or better.
  • Finally, ask for more time with the doctor if you feel you were rushed and did not get all the information you need. The doctor wants the best for the patient and will, generally, appreciate hearing that you need more time or information.