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Maximize Time with Your Doctor

As you or your loved one may have experienced, it can be challenging during the visit to communicate all of your questions about your condition and your overall health.

How can you maximize your time with your doctor and leave your appointment confident that all your concerns have been addressed? The best thing you can do is to come equipped not only with the right information, but also with the right questions.

Start by organizing your health information and questions in advance. Arrive early so that you can complete your insurance forms and other paperwork ahead of time. Try to bring all of the items discussed below and answer all of the questions listed. These preparations can help both you and your doctor to optimize your care.

  • What To Bring to Your Appointment
    • Before you arrive, especially if it's your first visit, be sure to ask the doctor's office what pertinent information you should bring. Important items will likely include:

      * Notes from previous doctors' histories and examinations

      * Lab/test reports

      * Films or CDs of brain imaging (not just the radiologists' reports)

      * Information about your medication history (For each medication, it is helpful to know the duration of treatment and the maximum dosage in the past, as well as any benefits or side effects you may have experienced)

      Upon your arrival, give your nurse or doctor any other paperwork that may require your doctor's signature. Examples of such items include:

      * A list of prescriptions to be refilled

      * Disability forms to be completed

      * Request for handicapped parking

      * Anything else that requires the doctor's sign-off (e.g., request to be excused from work)

      * List your past surgeries

  • What Information to Share
    • During your visit, share with your doctor details about your medications, your symptoms (new and existing) and other health issues you may be experiencing. It may be helpful to make a list of each problem area in advance to make sure you don't leave anything out. You should be prepared to:

      * Know your medications

      * List your medical problems

      * Any drug allergies

      * Any pertinent family history

  • Whom to Bring to Your Appointment
    • It is often helpful for a person with neurological issues to be accompanied by someone who can take notes throughout the appointment and provide an observer's perspective. Some patients, and due to their underlying medical conditions, may lack a full awareness of their impairment in thinking or judgment. An individual who has observed the person for a long time will be able to detect any recent or important details. Having a helpful and candid observer, usually a family member, caregiver or close friend, may help your doctor address these issues.

With a little preparation before your next visit to the neurologist, you will become an active participant in your own health matters and you can ensure that no concern, test result or question is left unexplored. Your visit will be productive and you will help your physician to find a treatment regimen that suits your treatment needs.