Tools to help you plan ahead before a doctor's visit

I think it was Ronald Reagan who once said that the most frightening thing ever heard in the English language is, “I am from the government and I am here to help.” I think we have all felt that way from time to time.

Today, I came across some information that is an exception to President Reagan’s Rule.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, created a useful aid called “My Questions for This Visit.” You can download it here.

This resource is basically a notepad that guides you to write down the top three questions that you want to ask the doctor during your next appointment. The notepad encourages you to consider questions including medications, medical tests, and surgeries.

I think this is a great idea because it encourages patients to plan ahead before a physician visits, which should lead to better communication and overall improved healthcare. It is so easy to forget to ask a question when you go to the doctor’s office. Of course, most people remember by the time they get to the car, but, by then, it is too late!

There are some other helpful tips that I recommend when you schedule a visit with your doctor.

One, bring a list of all of your medications, including over-the-counter medications, and supplements. Your list should include the medication name, dosage, and how often you take it. Is important for your healthcare providers to know your medication history because this information is important in the decision-making related to new potential prescriptions for you.

Two, keep a list of all of your medical conditions and diagnoses, and who is treating you for each one. This is particularly important when you have multiple doctors treating you for different conditions. In other words, you want to make sure that the left hand is what the right hand is doing. You certainly do not want a healthcare provider to order treatment for one condition that would interfere with another one.

Third, both of these items can be maintained in a medical journal, which is something that I think is a very important tool that can improve patient safety. Use your journal to jot down notes from a doctor’s office visit, including tests that have been ordered. If you have not heard back with the results after a reasonable time, your journal can serve as a useful reminder to do so.

As a Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, I have seen case after case where critical testing information has fallen through the cracks. When a doctor order lab tests, they are often sent off-site for processing. The same is true for radiology testing. Some physician offices have poor policies and procedures to follow-up with the lab if results do not come back. I have seen cases where a physician office received abnormal or critical test results and a nurse or clerk filed them without physician review. You can prevent these types of things from falling through the cracks by calling for answers yourself.

By the way, a medical journal can also be helpful in a hospital setting. Even though lab work and radiology studies there are usually done in-house, sometimes the medical team fails to report back to the patient with results. By keeping detailed notes of what is been ordered and performed, you will know what to ask about the next time the doctor stops by.

We are here to help

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by hospital, nursing, physician, or surgical care, then the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Painter Law Firm, in Houston, Texas, are here to help. Click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800.

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Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Association, he was honored, in 2017, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. In May 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.