Fitting in a doctor’s appointment for your child in one’s busy schedule is sometimes quite a feat. And it turns out to be a time waster if you don’t go well-prepared. Sometimes, it can even mean repeat visits and less than perfect treatment. But we can avoid this.
Dr. Hannah Chow, Loyola University Health System pediatrician, shares some tips to help us make the most of our doctor visits.
1. Cut to the chase: Dr Chow suggests that the doctors don’t mind if you skip the small talk and share your concern right away. “Ask your most important questions first,” she says. “I’ve had patients talk to me about smaller issues and by the time I’m ready to close the visit they say, ‘What I really wanted to talk about is. . .’ This makes it difficult to discuss what’s really concerning you or your child. It might even be good to make a list of the questions you want to ask to make sure we cover your concerns in the visit, but keep it short,” said Chow.
2. Stick to the top three: It’s possible that you may have many concerns regarding your child and to you all are important. However, avoid discussing all of them in one visit. Chow suggests discussing three most important concerns. “A typical visit lasts 15 minutes, including the examination, so by limiting your concerns you have a much better chance of getting a thoughtful, thorough answer. What might seem like a simple concern to a patient, for example, headaches, involves many detailed questions on the physician’s part and a more thorough examination compared to other issues.” suggests Chow. If there are longer, more complicated issues, schedule a second visit to discuss things further. Doing so ensures that the doctor to pay better attention to all our concerns.
3. Take the help of the nurse: Sometimes, a nurse is fully equipped to answer our questions. And we can save time if we first discuss the issue with her instead of waiting to visit the doctor.
4. Provide correct contact details: Ensuring that the clinic has your current contact details enables them to contact you with any recent developments or with details of your tests.
5. Never assume no news is good news regarding tests, labs, X-rays and other similar results: “A friend of mine hadn’t heard any news of her biopsy. One year later, she found out it was positive for cancer. Fortunately, everything turned out well, but I always ask all patients to call us for all results. There are times I cannot get a hold of patients, whether through wrong phone numbers, incorrect addresses, not receiving messages, full voice mail boxes or language barriers. Please, always contact your doctor’s office if you do not receive a result in the expected time frame,” said Chow.
7. Don’t bring too many friends: Doctors get distracted if there are too much noise in the room, and too many people usually is what causes more noise. hence, it helps to take minimum number of people to see the doctor.
8. Time appointments well:If it isn’t urgent, schedule the appointment on easy days when there is no likelihood of a rush. “With many back-to-back appointments it’s even harder for doctors to give each patient the time and attention they want to give and that you and your child deserve,” said Chow.
Adapted from Loyola University Health System