Eight Tips for Getting the Most Out of Visits to Your Doctor (by a Doctor)

in medicine •  2 years ago


Being both a physician and a patient I have picked up on certain tips and tricks which may not be entirely apparent to someone whose experience is mainly confined to one side of the therapeutic relationship.

I have suffered from quite severe health problems most of my life.

From being in hospital in early childhood I was struck by how difficult things can be from the patient side.

It was one of the reasons I wanted to become a doctor in the first place.

Anyway there are certain things you can do that will help you to get the most out of your clinical interactions.

Being ill is bad enough as it is. Why make it worse than it has to be?

These things may actually help your doctor too.

1) Take a copy of your prescription

This is especially true if it is the first time you are seeing someone.

Yes they should have been sent a list of your medications but it doesn't always happen on time and things aren't always at hand.

I personally keep a list of my medication in a Word document so I can just print it out and take it with me to give to the doctor.

A photocopy of your prescription can also be helpful or taking your medications with you can also be helpful, but be careful not to leave anything out.

A preprinted list is best because you can leave it with your doctor in case they want to attach a copy to your notes.

Also if it needs to be entered into a computer you won't have to wait around while someone does it.

2) Write down questions and take a small notepad and pen with you

Even as a doctor myself I often find I forget certain things that I want to tell the doctor or ask them about.

For this reason I take a small notepad with me every time.

Before I go I write down the specific questions I want answered so I don't forget them.
I also write down any relevant information during the appointment.

If it is anything particularly complex e.g. a drug or procedure I am not familiar with I ask them to write it down.

3) Take a friend or relative

Two heads are better than one.

As long as you as the patient agree to another party (e.g. a friend or relative) being present your doctor should be fine with it.

A loved one can bring up any important points that you have missed and they can also be another source of valuable information which you may forget or not be aware of.

For example in some cases I have discovered very important signs/symptoms that had not been noticed by the patient themselves but had been spotted by the wife or husband.

4) Don't be afraid to ask about things you don't understand

Part of the doctor's job is to explain things to you and act as a bridge between the regular world and the world of medical science.

There is no shame in saying you don't understand something.

It is not your failure, rather the doctor should have explained things better.

We all know doctors are human beings and fallible so by letting them know this you are actually helping them out and making them better at doing their job.

They may not realise they are using too much jargon or speaking too fast.

Pointing this out may not just help you but could help every other patient that they see (and make their job easier).

5) If you don't have enough time ask for another appointment

Doctors and health professionals are busy, we all know that.

Sometimes you will find that your appointment time is running out and you can't cover everything that you need to.

Ask for another appointment so you can discuss things more. A good doctor will happily do this for you.

Obviously how soon the appointment will be depends on a number of factors but for serious matters it should be fast - if not tell them/bring it to their attention.

6) If you are not happy about something say so

If you aren't happy with a situation tell your doctor.

Often I have had patients who are having terrible side effects with a medication and stop taking it, but are too scared to say so because they think it will cause offence.

It won't - I have stopped medications before for similar reasons.

If there is a problem or you are not happy tell them they are not psychic so will appreciate it!

They work for you not the other way around.

7) Ask if you can get copies of your letters when you visit a specialist

This is useful for visits to see specialists - many clinics nowadays will ask you if you want copies of your letters.

Even if they don't specifically ask check to see if the option is available.

This gives you an extra summary of what the specialist thought of your case.

There may also be extra information such as test results which were not available at the time.

In some cases you may also find the situation easier to understand when you aren't at the appointment.

Sometimes acute anxiety can make it difficult to understand things during the appointment itself.

A copy of the letter can give you another chance to "digest" the relevant points in a neutral situation.

Think of it like being a backup of your appointment.

8) If your doctor doesn't listen get a new doctor

Although we have an ever growing list of technology with various tests and scans, the single most important thing any doctor can do is listen to you as a patient.

If they don't do that you should get a new doctor. No, really I'm serious.

If they don't listen they are no use to you.

True clinical medicine is like a Sherlock Holmes mystery which needs to be solved using the information and evidence at hand.

Contrary to the impression that the mass media may give you the biggest source of evidence is not modern technology.

It is the words that come out of your mouth and the physical impression that the doctor makes of you.

If they are not listening they are not doing their job.

Find someone else that will.


I hope you have found this information useful.

If you have any tips of your own or anything you would like to add let me know in the comments.

Please share this information with others who you think may benefit.

Thank you for reading

If you like my work please follow me on Steemit: @thecryptofiend & on Twitter : Soul_Eater_43. Don't forget to share your posts and posts you like on other Social Media - it all helps spread the word about Steemit!

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Definitely something I'll be bookmarking. Thanks for the inside info :P


Thanks mate, glad you like it:)

Guys just to say I have an evening meeting I have to attend right now so it will probably be a couple of hours before I can answer your questions and comments, just leave them here and I will respond when I come back.


No problem. Have fun and enjoy your small break from Steemit.


no problem I can just schedule another appointment


@thecryptofiend what? the physician is out ? absent?

I can relate to your post specially #s 4, 6, 7 and 8 ahahaha. I hate going to the doctor but we have to sometimes. It calms me down to find out there's nothing so bad that I have to worry about. That it's all allergies or skin irritation or just a cough haha.

What I like about the doctors here is that they don't insist we take over the counter meds. We could just openly tell them we're taking homeopathic or herbal medicine and they respect that. We're waiting for one to accept BTC .. a dentist and a shrink already are doing it so hopefully a doctor does it, too !


Thanks. I'm sure accepting BTC will come eventually. Also some doctors are more tolerant of alternative therapies - they can't recommend them but they shouldn't give you a hard time about it. The only exception would be if you had something life threatening that needed urgent treatment.


@thecryptofiend oh the doctor is actually in haha

word on the life threatening part :)

Very good article, thank you once again!


Thank you:)

Good to get an actual doctor's perspective on this. Family members have told me that I should not be so choosy in regards to my Physician... My philosophy on the matter is that they did eight years of study beyond undergrad; If they didn't learn how to pass on their knowledge to patients OR gain a sense of compassion for patients, for what were they in school? I don't mean to belittle physicians, but your "choose a new doctor" very much resonates with me.

On a parting thought: I wonder why since my pediatrician, albeit, only 6 years ago, my only positive experiences visiting hospitals/ urgent care/ clinics has been when I have dealt directly with Doctors of Osteopathy and highly qualified Nurse Practitioners? Time for a little medical school reform??? That's a-whole-nother topic, I will spare you, @thecryptofiend. Thanks for the post. Great topic and execution, as always.


Thank you for your kind words. I think often people in complimentary therapies concentrate more on the therapeutic relationship. That is sad. It is important in every discipline.

I hate going to the doctor, any doctor. "white coat syndrome" anxiety.. I've never had anything very serious, but because I tend to catastrophise about any and all symptoms I may have ("omg, what if this headache is actually a tumor") I try to wait until that anxiety goes away and then realise it's just a one-off migraine.. meanwhile my wife who gets migraines often just rolls her eyes.


I can sympathise. Funnily enough I get white coat anxiety too sometimes - I think it is natural.

Finally got to adding you on my favorite authors list. I had to workout some problems with my full node. :D


Thank you:)

too sweet to read this. simple but it contains too much. one issue i have seen a lot that you mentioned is how many questions we get ask in one session. We don't get to exhaust all questions and a notepad and pen before hand fixes that. too, the two heads is better than one aspect and if your doctor is not listening, get another. In general, in other places, like here in PH, going to doctors is too part of the norm, like checkups etc, i mean and you would think it is something of luxury to request another doctor, if your doctor isnt listening. Recently, i went to the hospital and wasnt really satisfied. Only some doctors would want to really engage in answering your questions. The younger docs, would to an extent as they seem to want to practice their craft sort of. This last time, i resorted to forums on the internet to seek answers. Glad to know you are a doc. i have soft spot for them always cos i wanted to be one but ended up in another path. i like to create ideas instead and i have one idea built around doctors and mothers. Recently, in the small steemit meetup in Manila Philippines, the few non-steemians who were there were medical students and oh, how i had instant soft spots for them. i had to try explain steemit in a more tangible way and explained that it will be thrilling to have these students fill steemit with school work related to medicine, to aid their learning and paint steemit with more info. the health part that you have had to deal with, also affects me. i dont like ailment. i watch my dad crumble to health issues and it crumbled me. now i entertain fears about my own health on every small issues. It is really great that you ended up as a doctor. steem can easily become a place that holds an extra office held by you, where you answer questions for some steem and perhaps it can be opened to the public. When those medical students join steemit, i will be contact you. on the side, thank you for having always upvoted my posts!



like checkups etc, i mean and you would think it is something of luxury to request another doctor

I don't think you would necessarily be able to see someone else right away but what I mean is get referred to someone else.

Depending on your local health system you can either do that yourself or ask your GP to do it.

You are also within your rights to ask at the hospital and request to see another doctor in the same department - won't be the same day but they could arrange it for you.

They don't have to oblige - they may not have the staff for one thing, but you should not hesitate in asking if you are not happy.

on the side, thank you for having always upvoted my posts!

You are welcome. Sorry I haven't been commenting as much as usual lately but I just have so much on right now it is tough for me to do everything.


it is all good. thank you for the additional insight. have a great day!


Thanks. Some of these are new info though I always have a list of my prescription on G drive.


You're welcome.

I always have a list of my prescription on G drive.

Cool it definitely saves time and ensures you don't forget something when you are recounting them from memory.

Tip 9 - Don't ask questions about whats in vaccines or you'll be treated like a terrorist


You should be able to ask - I'm not sure they will necessarily know though. Thing is there is nothing wrong with asking questions and if they treat you like a criminal find someone else.

Although I am very pro-vaccine nobody should be forced to have a procedure they are not comfortable with and they should not be ridiculed for it.

When people talk about 'adding quality content and value to Steemit' this is where we should point them for an example.

This is actually useful stuff to read and it may help a lot of people.
So well done Dr. Cryptofiend ;-)


Thank you so much:)

Useful tips, very good blog as usual @thecryptofiend. i enjoyed reading it as doctor & a patient :)
To be honest i thought you are just a pro blogger who makes a living from internet because you are so active and your work is extraordinary.
interesting to know that you are a physician.

Please check out steemitclinc tag and join steemitclinic channel in steemit chat.
what steemitclinick about?

It will be very nice of you to share your knowledge about common asked health questions, actually you are the most experience doctor in steemit now, lets build something useful :)
thnx a gain
happily upvoted, resteemed and followed


Thank you will check it out:)