#6 How to be a better patient – How to prepare for your doctor’s appointment (part 2)

Being caught up in the healthcare system, I can confirm doctors are just humans. Unfortunately, everyone will make a mistake at some point, whether it’s small or big. A major factor that determines whether a doctor makes correct decisions or not, is how the patient presents himself/herself. A good doctor will make sure not to miss important aspects, they will incorporate the following aspects in their judgement:

  • 1. The story of the patient: this is referred to as the “patient history”
  • 2. The physical examination: depending on the patient history the doctor will decide what kind of physical examination to perform (for example this could be listening to your heart or looking into your ears).
  • 3. If necessary, the doctor will request additional tests: the “patient history” and the physical examination will influence which additional tests need to be requested.

I hope you now understand that in most cases the story of the patient is the single most important clue in determining the correct diagnosis and treatment. A good doctor will try to guide the patient in communicating their physical complaints. At the same time, the patient also has the responsibility to communicate all relevant aspects of their illness. This is what you can do to help your doctor make the correct diagnosis:

  • 1. Write down your main physical complaints in advance (This was also mentioned in yesterday’s blog post).
  • 2. Explain how your physical complaints changed over time: did the physical complaints stay the same or have they become worse over time? Which physical complaints are new and which have you had for a longer time.
  • 3. Mention all the medication you are taking: some patients think certain medication aren’t relevant to tell because they think it’s totally unrelated to their current ailment. Nevertheless, make it a habit to mention all the meds you’re taking, it might as well be causing some side effects or it might have a bad interaction with the new medication your doctor wants to prescribe to you!!!
  • 4. Mention all your allergies
  • 5. Mention whether you have been diagnosed with some other diseases
  • 6. Mention whether you are currently being for some other illness

Don’t worry if you can’t manage to follow these exact guidelines, the training of becoming a doctor is extracting the relevant information despite a fuzzy description of the ailment. Nevertheless as mentioned before, doctors are merely human and can therefore make mistakes or fail to extract critical information. Try to prevent the mistakes made by your doctor by incorporating these tips and tricks into your next doctor’s visit.

Featured image credits: Photo by MART PRODUCTION: https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-woman-sitting-technology-7089401/

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