Your visit with an orthopaedic surgeon is an important meeting that can be most effective if you plan ahead. It is important that you give your doctor the information he or she needs and that you understand what your doctor is recommending.
Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care get better results. Lack of communication is a primary reason for medical errors.
The following checklist will help you and your doctor discuss the issues most important for getting the most out of the visit.
Find out the basics about the office.
Where is it? What time should you arrive? If you're going to drive, where can you park? Do you need to bring your insurance care or a managed care medical referral?
Schedule your appointment.
The receptionist may ask why you want to see the doctor. Based on the problem, for example, a sore back, a trick knee, or painful finger, an amount of time will be set aside for you. When you see the doctor try not to discuss other problems, such as those darned bunions, or the achy elbow. There will not be enough time to do both, and your doctor may lose sight of the main reason you came. If you have more than one problem, tell the receptionist.
Assemble your records.
Compile documents, such as relevant medical records from other physicians; results and copies of X-rays; and other imaging studies and lab tests and personally take the records to the doctor's office.
- Make written lists.
- Medications, herbs, vitamin supplements and over-the-counter medications you are taking
- Your medical history, such as prior treatments for heart or thyroid problems or operations, even those not related to your current problem.
- Your concerns about your condition (pains, loss of mobility or function).
- All questions you may have
Bring a friend.
Consider asking a friend or family member to accompany you. If you need a translator, ask another adult to come with you; don't rely on a child to translate.
For spine and many problems involving the arms and legs, you may be asked to disrobe. Wear loose clothing that's easy to take off and put on.
You will need time to complete any required forms or tests before meeting with your doctor.
Be honest and complete in talking with your doctor.
Share your point of view and don't hold back information about issues such as incontinence, memory loss, sex, or other issues that you might consider embarrassing.
Stick to the point.
It might be fun to share news about the children, but keep it short to get the most out of your time with the doctor.
Take notes and ask questions.
Take notes on what the doctor tells you and ask questions if you don't understand a medical term, the reason for the doctor's recommendations, or the instructions for taking medication.
Ask what to expect from your treatment.
Find out what effect it will have on your daily activities, and what you can do to prevent further disability.
Ask for more information to take with you.
Ask your doctor for handouts or brochures that you and your family members can review at home. Your doctor may refer you to an Internet web site for more information.
Talk to the other members of the health care team.
Physician assistants, nurses or therapists (speech, physical or occupational) can also address any questions or concerns.
Review the materials the doctor gave you.
If you can't remember something, or if you don't understand your notes, call the office and speak to a member of your health care team.
Follow the doctor's instructions.
Take the full course of medication and make sure you follow the prescribed diet or exercise routine. Remember, you're a part of your health care team too.
Keep your doctor informed.
Follow up with your doctor on test results, adverse reactions to medication, or any complications or worsening of your condition.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
6300 N. River Road
Rosemont, IL 60018