When you schedule your first appointment, tell your doctor that you will require extra time. Tell him that you need at least an additional 20 minutes (or more if you need it) for your appointment. The challenge here is to not feel rushed, as when you are stressed your cognition erodes.
If distractions bother you, arrange with the doctor’s office (when you make the appointment) for a quiet place to wait, such as a quiet exam room. If this is not possible, ask for somebody to come and get you in the foyer or your car.
Get to your appointment at least 15 minutes ahead of time, so you can collect your thoughts, become settled and unwind from the drive.
Write down everything you want to tell or ask your doctor. Cross each item off the list after you have covered it. Write down instructions that your doctor gives. Recap at the end of each issue, to make sure you understand.
Ask your doctor to write down your diagnosis. Ask for a written explanation in layman’s language. Ask for a written description of the preferred treatment and goals, with an estimate of the costs and the expected time frame.
Trust your instincts. If you don’t think that a diagnosis is valid, or if you think it minimizes your problems, remember this: YOU ARE PROBABLY RIGHT. Remember, you are the “expert” about you.
Always ask your doctor about the contraindications when he prescribes new medications. Additionally, have the doctor provide you with a written list. Take charge of knowing everything about the drugs you take.
Ask your doctor to make a notation in your file stating that you should receive a copy of all reports and tests as soon as they are received by the office.
Never sign a blank release form. Make sure all authorization forms are completely filled out. Read what you’re signing. Make sure the release has ONLY the names on it that YOU want. Get a copy of each and every release form/letter you sign.
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