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POV: Make the most of doctor’s visits

The author is the medical director of BlueShield of Northeastern New York and is a resident physician at Highland Hospital, which is affiliated with the University of Rochester.

Due to colds and the flu, this is the season when people have more contact with their doctors than any other.

As a busy physician in private practice, I recognize that patients may feel rushed or anxious at their office visits.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that most patients get only 15 to 20 minutes of face time with their doctors, so it’s important to be prepared and thorough when we do meet.

Trust yourself and your doctor

Trust what your body is telling you. If you notice changes in your health or general wellbeing, share your concerns and discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Trust him or her to let you know if or when any treatment may be helpful.

Organize your questions

Make a list of what you want to talk about with the most important concerns and/or questions at the top. Refer to your list during the visit, or show it to your doctor.

Organize background information on your health history.

List all your medications or bring them with you, so that your doctor can see dosages and scheduling. This will help your doctor prescribe new medications while avoiding drug interactions.

Create a profile of your overall health, including sleep, exercise and diet.

Bring any recent test results (including blood work), discharge sheets, or other hospital or outpatient information with you.

Bring your current insurance card to the visit, whether you have private insurance or a government-sponsored plan.

Bring a friend or family member

As many as 50 percent of patients forget what their doctor has told them after an office visit, so taking along a friend or close family member may be a good idea for you.

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