Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stressful Times

As the economy continues to deteriorate, stress levels are on the rise. That means more hospital visits and doctor appointments also. Here are a few tips:

Record all necessary information
Keep a short medical history tucked into your wallet or purse, says Dr. Virgie Bright-Ellington, M.D., Internal Medicine and author of What Your Doctor Wants You to Know But Doesn't have Time to Tell You (Hilton Publishing, 2009). It should include your allergies, a complete list of your medications and dosages as well as any over-the-counter supplements and vitamins you're taking. Keeping it in your wallet or purse will make your list easily accessible (and easy to maintain and update) when you need it.

Do a quick double-check before you head out: do you have your health care numbers and information with you?3. Make the most of the visitBe on time for your appointment. While it's true your appointment might be delayed because of unanticipated emergencies your doctor runs into during the course of her appointment day, don't start the appointment off on the wrong foot by showing up late. If you're scheduled for a 15-minute appointment and you're five minutes late, the doctor will be pressed to catch up.

If you think you might have paperwork or forms to fill out, show up early and get the paperwork done before the start time of your scheduled appointment.Unforeseen emergencies are the mainstay of a doctor's life. If your appointment is unavoidably delayed, make the most of the wait time by bringing something along to work on while you wait.

Crossword puzzles, a good book or a little project from the office will make the wait time pass quickly and efficiently.Take notes -- your doctor knows you won't remember everything she says, especially if you're in uncharted medical territory. Jotting down key points during the course of the appointment will help you recall the details later and help set you up for follow-up appointments.

Notes taken during the appointment should include any prescription details and medical advice related to your doctor's diagnosis. If a follow-up visit seems indicated, make note of anything the doctor will want you to bring or to talk about at the next visit. Medical appointments can be stressful. If you're worried about how well you're going to absorb and retain the information your doctor gives you, think about having an advocate -- a spouse, a sibling, or a friend -- go into the appointment with you.
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