Getting the most when going to the doctor
  • It's your right to ask questions and receive information from your doctor
  • It's all right to share your symptoms, concerns or other personal beliefs or practices
  • If you don't, it may affect your medical care
Preparing to go to the doctor

Know: a) Your medical insurance policy (which physicians, hospitals and lab services are covered, and if there are any restrictions or advance approvals required); and b) Your medical history (general information about any family medical problems, own medical problems and any treatments and surgeries)

Be prepared: a) to tell the reasons why you don't take or stop taking a prescribed medicine; and b) to share any personal cultural or religious beliefs or practices that can influence understanding and treatment

Request in advance for an interpreter if you don't speak English, are hearing impaired or for any reasons need an interpreter

Plan in advance for any special services or transportation needs

Inform the office of special requests for your choice of doctor, (i.e. same gender physician) because of personal beliefs or practices (cultural, religious or other)

Bring: a) Your medical insurance card; b) the list of questions, concerns and symptoms with your name and phone number; and c) Any medical records, test results and medications including over the counter, alternative or herbal therapies

At the doctor's office:

Remind the staff of any special needs (interpreter, same gender physician, transportation)
Ask how long you have to wait to be seen

In the exam room

Share the information and your question list with the doctor. All is confidential

Be specific about: a) when the problem started; b) how often it happens; and c) whether it is getting better or worse

Tell the doctor about: a) medicine, herbal, traditional, complementary or alternative therapy that you have tried or taking for this problem; and b) diet, smoking, use of drugs or alcohol, sexual orientation and history, any other life changes or stresses

Being examined

Make sure you understand what the doctor is doing
Ask questions or voice concerns or disagreement if you do not understand
Let the doctor know if you feel being misunderstood

After the exam

  • Why am I having this(ese) problems?
  • Why am I having this(ese) tests?
  • Can you repeat again?
  • Why am I taking this medication for, and how will it help me?
  • When should I take this medication and how should I take it?
  • How long will it take for this medication to work?
  • For how long should I take it?
  • Can I take it with food?
  • What side effects can this medication cause?
  • Will my other medications interact with this one?
  • Will this medication make my other medical problems worse?

Use the following link to print the health caring card.

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