Following Up MD Appointments

Written by Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC

In my last two posts, I wrote about "Being Prepared for MD Appointments" and creating "Your Health Summary".

So, being prepared for appointments is great, but what do you do about following up when the appointment is over? 

Take Notes

First, the most important thing to do when you visit the doctor is to listen well and take notes. If this is challenging for you for any reason, then bring a loved one or friend along to listen and take notes for (and with) you. We all go into the doctor's office with things we want to talk about, so taking notes and leaving with a clear idea of what you need to do (and what the doctor said) is important. 

Ask Questions

Before you leave, make sure you are 100% clear on what you are being asked to do.

If you get home and can't remember something the doctor said or there is ambiguity about what you need to do, call the office and ask questions. 

When I have specific concerns, I write a letter to my doctor with my concerns and questions, and I either fax it, mail it, or drop it by the office in person. 

Also, when you go for a lab or x-ray or procedure, ask if a copy will be sent to your doctor. Ask to verify his or her contact information. Also ask for those notes or results to be sent to any other providers you feel should have them. 

Keep Track

If you're sent for an x-ray or labs, keep track of where and when you went for the test. After a few days, call your doctor's office and ask if they received the results. If not, ask them to make sure they obtain them.

Keep a calendar of appointments with your doctor, other specialists, procedures, labs, etc, and make sure you know where and when those appointments are. Keeping such a diary or list makes cross-referencing much easier, especially if your health and healthcare are complicated. 

Some people have a notebook in which they take notes on all health-related issues, appointments, etc. This can be a paper notebook or journal, or it can be done on a laptop or tablet or smart phone. Spreadsheets can also be very helpful in this regard. 

Take Responsibility

Finally, take responsibility for your healthcare and your health. This includes taking responsibility for your appointments, medications, prescriptions, referrals, labs, tests, procedures, etc.

You are your own best advocate and administrative assistant, and like I mentioned above, if you need help keeping track, recruit a loved one or friend to help you. 

These hints and ideas are all about taking responsibility. After all, it's your health and your healthcare, and you are one of the keys to its ultimate success.