Medicine Information

Take Control of Your Doctor: Ten Actions To Get What You Need At Your Next Office Visit

Michael Richardson, MD has some suggestions on maximizing your next doctor's visit.

?Find a primary care doctor you can talk to and start building a relationship. Make a "well visit" to get acquainted. Be sure your medical and alternative health care providers keep your doctor up-to-date. This will help to avoid drug interactions, duplicate testing, and unnecessary health expenditures.

?What are your top 3 concerns? Write them down in order of priority. Make sure they are understandable and logical. Most doctors are very efficient in addressing multiple issues when necessary, as long as you are organized and clear. In other words, don't waste time piecing a story together. Save it for problem solving.

?Where does it hurt? This is not the time to act heroic or shy. Tell it like it is. Be honest about your concerns.

?Listen up! Don't move on to thinking about how to ask the next question without understanding the answer to the first one.

?Do you have any problems taking specific drugs? Let the doctor know. Keep a written list of drugs and supplements that have given you problems. It will save time and help prevent future adverse reactions.

?How healthy is your family? Medical problems experienced by family members may directly affect your health risks. Keep the doctor up-to-date about new family events.

?Don't be passive. Make it easy for your doctor to contact you with test results or other health-related information. Refuse to accept "If you don't hear from us, then everything is OK".

?Know your insurance and what you'll get paid. Some medical offices deal with hundreds of insurance plans, including those that have different versions depending on the employer. Your doctor may not know what your plan covers, when referrals are required, or what you drug plan is like. Do your homework!

?Make sure you're #1. Watch for signs that you may receive better care elsewhere such as long waits, frequent interruptions, unreturned calls and differences in philosophy.

?Over 50% of all marriages end in divorce. Not all doctor relationships work out either. If your approach to medical care, philosophy toward life, and/or style of communication are simply not compatible with your doctor's, recognize it and move on.

Dr. Richardson is the author of "Health Basics, a Doctor's Plainspoken Advice about How Your Body Works and What to do When it Doesn't". It's a goldmine of vital information on managing your well-being.

Barbara Kimmel is an award winning book publisher and publicist at Next Decade, Inc. (

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