How well you and your doctor talk to each other is one of the most important parts of getting good health care. Unfortunately, talking with your doctor isn’t always easy. In the past, the doctor typically took the lead and the patient followed. Today, a good patient-doctor relationship is a partnership and you and your doctor can work as a team.

Preparing to Visit your Healthcare Provider

The first step is to prepare at home before your appointment. Make a list of your medications (some doctors may want you to bring your actual medications to the visit):

  • Write down how much you take
  • Write down how often you take the medicine
  • Write down any side effects after taking the medicine
  • Write down any medication allergies you have
  • Write down which medications work best for you

Your doctor needs to know about ALL the medications you take. Medications include:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Over-the-counter (non-prescription) drugs
  • Vitamins, herbal remedies or supplements
  • Laxatives
  • Eye drops

Visiting your Healthcare Provider

During your healthcare provider visit:

  • Show your doctor your list of medications, and make sure to tell the doctor if a dose has changed or if you are taking a new medication since your last visit.
  • Tell your doctor if you had to go to the emergency room, stay in the hospital or see a different doctor, such as a specialist, since your last visit. It may be helpful to bring that doctor’s contact information.
  • Bring your insurance cards, names and phone numbers of your other doctors, and the phone number of the pharmacy you use.
  • Be your best advocate and speak up. Prepare 3 of your most important questions to ask.
  • Take paper and pen
  • Ask for any information sheets they can give you so you can read them later
  • If the doctor gives you a new prescription, ask your doctor or pharmacist these important questions:
  • When and how should I use this new drug?
  • What is the purpose of the medication?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • Will the drug interact with other medications, vitamins or supplements I’m taking?
  • Is a generic or lower-cost brand-name medication available?
  • What side effects, reactions or warning signs should I watch for?
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