Skip to content
Font Size
A
A
A

Doctor's Views: Getting the Most from Your Doctor’s Appointment

Doctors spend on average about 20 minutes with each patient they see for routine examinations. (Of course, there is often time out of the exam room that is spent reviewing the chart and records.) The experience can be both confusing and frustrating when communication on one or both sides is lacking, especially if you’re presented with new information to process or new instructions to follow.

While a visit to the clinic can be intimidating for anyone, you can lessen the stress and worry associated with doctor’s appointments by taking steps to be sure that you’re provided with all the information you need at the appointment. There are also ways you can improve the quality of your care by helping your doctor develop the best understanding possible of your symptoms and condition.

Recommended Related to

15 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Hospital Risks

When it comes to reducing your hospital risks, questions are key. "Most patients simply don't ask enough questions," says Carolyn Clancy, MD, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in Rockville, Md. "But the enlightened minority who do ask questions in the hospital have a greater sense of control over their health -- and they just do better." You should start asking questions about your hospital risks long before you check in. Next time you see your doctor -- or meet with...

Read the 15 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Hospital Risks article > >

Before the appointment, write down a list of things you need to tell the doctor. Note any concerns or questions you may have. Also write down the names and dosages of any prescription, over-the-counter medications, and supplements you are taking. It is very important to take this list with you to the appointment -- don’t count on remembering every single item. Before you leave the office, go over the list to be sure you’ve covered everything. This simple step benefits both you and your doctor by keeping the discussion focused and ensuring that all your concerns are addressed.

Don’t hesitate to use the words “I don’t understand.” Doctors are only human and may not always know when they haven’t explained something well or in terms you can understand. Never feel embarrassed or shy about asking your doctor to explain something he or she has said more clearly. When in doubt, repeat back what your doctor has told you and ask if you’ve got it right. You can also ask if he or she recommends any specific reading materials about your condition.

If your doctor asks questions that sound embarrassing or overly personal, remember that the information you provide enables him or her to better establish a diagnosis or determine which treatment is most appropriate for you. Never fib in response to questions about alcohol or drug use, sexual history, or other lifestyle matters. Be honest about the extent to which you are taking your prescriptions or following a treatment plan. Withholding the truth can affect the quality of your care and can even lead to a wrong diagnosis or treatment.

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
psoriasis
Does your kid have symptoms?
fruit drinks
Eat these to think better.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Close up of eye
12 reasons you're distracted.
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.