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What to Bring to Your Next Doctor's Appointment

June 10, 2008

William Walker, MD
Contra Costa Health Services

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It seems like doctors get less and less time to spend with their patients these days. That's why it's so important for patients to come prepared.

Hello, I'm Dr. William Walker, the Director of Contra Costa Health Services, and I'm here to give you some suggestions about what to bring to your next doctor's visit.

One of my longtime patients is especially organized, and he's a good example for all of us. He comes to appointments armed with a list of questions, and a journal of his significant medical problems and any test results since his last visit.

He also brings a pencil and paper to jot down any important information from our visit, like his blood pressure, medication changes and any special instructions I give him.

This really works well and I recommend you do the same. Bring a written list of questions and prioritize your questions in case you run out of time.

Educate yourself ahead of time about tests you might need to prevent illness, such as cancer and heart disease. Ask your provider if you're due for a test.

If you can, bring ALL your prescription medications in their official, labeled containers, including pills, inhalers, eye drops, ointments, vitamins and herbal supplements. Otherwise bring a complete list.

Keep a dated journal of any chronic health problems you have and bring it to appointments. Include your symptoms and test results like blood sugar and blood pressure.

Ask questions if you have them, and don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion if you've been diagnosed with a serious health problem. A responsible physician will understand your concern, and won't be offended.

If you're expecting important test results or possibly bad news, consider bringing a relative or close friend for emotional support. You may be too anxious to think clearly and ask important questions.

Your doctor focuses on your most urgent problems, but these visits also serve as valuable opportunities to improve your long-tem health. For more information, visit our website

Thanks for listening.

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