How to prepare for a Doctor’s appointment?



A doctor, whose diagnosis is accurate in the first interface with the patient, provides requisite relief to his/ her patient at a fast speed. To achieve so, a doctor-within a limited time frameneeds a patient’s full involvement to explain the core information about the symptoms, history et al to hammer out in time prognosis.

Surinder Shaun Kochhar

Being hard pressed on time front, on an average, a doctor spends about 20 minutes with a patient. So his team up with you being limited, the time is opportune for you to properly prepare for an appointment. For an accurate diagnosis, patient’s preparation is the key. Answer all the questions in an open-ended manner, not close-ended. Good preparation will also go a long way to decelerate any anxiety you may be feeling about the appointment.

Does a doctor expect something from a patient?

Answer is yes. A doctor is always saying, “Help me to help you.” A patient increase the likelihood of an accurate diagnosis if he comes prepared with the details and history of his problem, anticipate questions, know his medications and being up to date with his medical records.
The process that a doctor follows is mentioned ut-infra:

  • Assessment of the symptoms
  • Diagnosis of the present ailment
  • Planning for a cure /prescription
  • Intervention as you start consuming medicine[s]
  • Evaluation is the review after a short period The majority of the work, a doctor does, lies in your description of the problem. While it’s true that a physician beget additional information from the physical exam, laboratory and imaging tests and to cap it all, your medical history provides a valuable direction. The more organized your presentation, the easier it will be, for your Doctor to arrive at a correct diagnosis.

What as a patient we should do?

  • Prepare for your Doctor visit in advance: A recent review of studies showed that patients who filled out a detailed checklist before an office visit, or received in-office coaching that focused on their health status, asked more questions to the attending doctor and got more satisfaction from the visit.
  • Anticipate what the doctor needs to know. A doctor normally ask many questions to reach a correct diagnosis. Answer all the questions in an open-ended manner not close-ended. In case you are deficient in input, a corrected diagnosis may be eluded. Doctor’s questions apply to most problems or symptoms. If you’ve thought about how you would answer them ahead of time, you’ll be judiciously prepared.
  • Jot down your symptoms: Seek the help of a relative or a close friend to prepare for and accompany you to the appointment, if needed. It is always better to bring someone with you to provide a second set of ears. You may repeatedly think you remember everything, but by the time you get to see the doctor you will forget the majority of what you wanted to tell or ask the doctor. I know, you know that.

So, like myself, write down all of your medical problems, and also the names and the dosages of the medications you’re taking. Once you’ve written it all down, you are ready to take off. In case you get emotional in explaining to your doctor, make a copy and you can even give it at reception, when you arrive for your doctor’s visit. She’ll add it to your medical records. The doctor will go through it before he/she is with you. I still remember when my reverend father went for a BPH surgery and he handed over a hand written detail of his medical history to attending Surgeon Dr. Singh, the doctor read it very very carefully. He again read it for the second time and thanked my dad and stated, “I wish every patient come fully prepared”

Once you’re with the doctor, take notes in case you want to look something up. Write down the recommended diet, exercise and life style plus and minus. And don’t hesitate to ask sensible questions.

  • Be honest, and don’t leave out details. The doctor want to know everything medical that has happened to a patient that includes the removal of any organs. You might forget to tell doctor you had your gallbladder out. Also tell the doctor everything that you’re doing that could affect your health. Are you taking laxatives? Are you on a low carb diet? How much exercise do you get? Are you using a sleep aid? How much alcohol do you drink? Do you smoke? If you’re using illegal drugs, the doctor needs to know that also. Are you under stress? Have you ever endured extraordinary stress? For example, a loss of a child or a spouse, job setbacks. The doctor wants to know about anything that might have had a powerful impact on the patient. A visit to the physician is totally confidential, always remember.
  • Explain history in an accurate manner: A Doctor appreciates an accurate history whether it comes from the patient or related / accompanying someone who clearly has the correct information. Both must ensure that there is no difference of opinion in explaining things to a doctor in the exam room.
  • Be specific and crystal clear in your talk: Instead of telling the doctor that I am sick, we should explain the symptoms e.g. feel warm, have temperature, a sore throat, arunning nose and a che all over. Give as much information as you can.
  • Talk first about the problem that bothers you most: If you have more than one problem, prepare a separate history for each. Present them one at a time so you don’t confuse your Doctor and successfully try to make it clear and complete. This is in your own interest. In case, due to deficient or inadvertently incorrect information from you, a doctor errs in diagnosis, then prognosis will elude you for the time being.
  • After God and mother , on respect front, I lock the doctor along with a father and a guru, but once we are in a life threatening situation, as mother being hapless and helpless prays to the Almighty , then it is the Doctor who jumps a couple of notches and God through a doctor cures His creation. That’s why, every doctor says, I care, He cures.”

• Explain how you’re feeling: You know better than anyone else how you feel, and that information is vital to your doctor. That’s why, I request, prefer to explain medical history yourself.Has your appetite increased / decreased?


Prof. Surinder
Shaun Kochhar
(A freelance writer with
36 Years Exp.)


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