Health Team

Learn How To Prepare for Doctor's Visit

Posted December 28, 2006 6:10 p.m. EST
Updated December 28, 2006 10:26 p.m. EST

Cold and flu season can be one of the busiest times of the year for many doctors, but many patients come ill-prepared to help their doctor treat their sicknesses.

Henry Parrish wants relief from his cold symptoms, so he set up an appointment with his doctor. He did not want to waste too much time waiting, so he called ahead.

"Just to see how long of a wait there is, because I know this can be the busy time of year," he said.

Parrish said he knows to bring an up-to-date insurance card and the correct co-pay amount. Plus, he said he writes down questions he may have.

"I had a list of questions and a list of symptoms that I was feeling because I didn't know exactly what was going on," he said.

That's a good idea. Another thing you can do is to be sure to bring bottles of medication with you so your health-care provider can see exactly what you are taking.

How you dress is also important. Long sleeves can get in the way of a blood-pressure cuff.

If you are referred to a specialist, be sure to get a copy of the X-ray, CT scan or MRI. Your doctor will want to see the actual film.

Even if you have a specific appointment time and things are running smoothly, be sure to allow at least an hour for a doctor's appointment. It simply takes time for gathering your vital signs, examination and getting prescriptions, especially during cold and flu season, so you want to be sure to allot enough time.

Health experts also said it is a good idea to call your insurance provider to understand what health-care services are covered and which ones are not.