Should you bring someone with you to your next doctor’s appointment?

Should you bring someone with you to your next doctor’s appointment? If you’re asking, the answer is yes.  

How do you be the best companion if you’re asked? Prep in advance, listen, record, ask questions. Know why you’re going? That means both What does the person want to accomplish during the appointment? and Why are you accompanying them? There are many types of visits.  Here are 4:
  1. Routine physical 
  2. New acute issue
  3. Follow-up for an acute issue
  4. Follow-up for a chronic condition
Prep in advance for all of them if you can. Bring or make lists:
  • Current meds – prescribed by anyone plus any not prescribed (over-the-counter). Note if they’re taken as prescribed, any questions about the meds, any effects that cause notice. If you can, bring the medications in their containers, just in case.
  • All members of the health team: medical and non-medical.
  • Anything medical or health that has occurred since the last visit with this clinic or clinician.
  • Questions that come up in prep
During any visit, listen and record. This is active listening-make sure you understand. Repeat back what you hear. Fill in blanks of information if you can. Ask if you can record the session.  Use your phone to tape if you have one or bring a tape machine. Ask the person with the appointment if they understand and if they have any questions. Ask for a copy of the clinician’s notes.  If someone brings up HIPAA as a reason not share information, they have it backwards. HIPAA mandates the sharing of health information with the person with the appointment.
As soon after the appointment as you can, go over what happened and what you both learned. Memory of lots of details can fade quickly in the best of circumstances.
Going to the doctors with someone is a gift.

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