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March 13, 2013

FIT FAMILIES: How to prepare for a medical appointment

For some people, a doctor’s appointment can be a stressful experience. Maybe you’re not feeling your best or you’re preparing to undergo surgery. Perhaps you face time pressures because you’re missing work or school to attend and have to rush back as quickly as possible. Stress may also stem from feeling unprepared for your visit or not knowing what to expect.

The good news is that there are some steps you can take beforehand to optimize your visit to the doctor and turn it into a less intimidating experience.

Ask Questions When Scheduling. At the time you schedule your appointment, be sure to find out if there are any special preparations you should make for your visit. For example, some doctor’s appointments require you to fast — or avoid food — while others require removal of makeup, nail polish and jewelry. Make sure you understand what’s required of you.

Take Notes. From the time you schedule your appointment, begin creating a list of questions and observations you need to share with your physician. Note even small details, such as the dates or frequency of your observations, which may be helpful to your health care provider. Before setting out to your appointment, carefully organize your list by priority. This way, you’ll have a clear, comprehensive list to refer to.

The note-taking doesn’t end there. Write down information of importance throughout your appointment as well. Keep notes on things like follow-up appointment details and information on any prescriptions you’ll be taking, including dosage instructions.

Consider Pre-Registration. If you’ll be undergoing a hospital procedure, consider pre-registering by phone. This will expedite your waiting time at the hospital and make your visit go more smoothly,

Bring The Right Documents. Don’t be caught without the right paperwork once you arrive at your appointment. Bring with you:

• Your photo ID

• Your insurance card

• Referral and authorization forms

• A list of your prescription medications and dosages. Even better, “brown bag” all of your current medication bottles and bring them with you to the appointment.

• A list of your allergies

• A copy of your advance directive

• Legal guardian papers that authorize your right to give consent, if you are a legal guardian of a child undergoing a procedure.

• All old medical records when visiting a doctor for the first time.

Give Yourself Plenty Of Time. Plan to arrive 10 minutes prior to your appointment time, or even earlier if you’re a new patient to allow time to fill out all administrative paperwork thoroughly and accurately when you arrive at registration.

Cancel Early. Call 24 to 48 hours in advance if you cannot make it to your appointment.

Follow these instructions, and you’ll be well-prepared for your next doctor’s appointment.

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