A great family physician blogger who I sometimes read is Jill of All Trades, MD. If you’re not already following her, check out the post: Dancing With the Doctors: Learn 5 Steps to Tango Effortlessly at Your Doctor’s Office. It’s a fun, well-written post.
One step she mentions is an aspect of obtaining medical care that drives me crazy:
Tell the nurse who takes your vital signs and places you in the exam room exactly what you are there for.
When I make the appointment, I have to tell the scheduler why I need an appointment. I can’t just ask for an appointment; they want the story. Then when the nurse shows me back to the exam room, I have to repeat that story for the nurse. Later the doctor comes in and wants me to repeat it again.
And I think, what was the nurse writing if she didn’t write down why I’m here? or why are you asking me something that’s already written in my chart?
My solution – and I honestly don’t know if my doctor likes it or hates it, but it works for me - is that I now type up my answer to the question “why are you here?” before I go see my doctor. I try to keep it short, but include details like how long it’s gone on, what I’ve tried as home treatments, if anything makes it better or worse…
When the nurse shows me into the exam room, I hand her my short write-up (half-sheet, max). She documents whatever she wants in the chart, but usually just slides my little paper under the clip so the doctor can read it. When my son hurt his arm, I included a photo so that the height from which he fell was clear. I feel that I’m able to give clearer information in less time this way, because I’m less likely to forget details that might be omitted in a verbal narrative. I don’t get half-way home and say, “I forgot to tell him…”
Do you have little things you do to make your appointments go more smoothly?