As a former paramedic one of the skills I honed was taking a good history, a feat not always easy to do in the midst of an often chaotic and confusing scene of an emergency.
Life would have been a lot simpler for me back then if people had taken it upon themselves to make, and keep updated, a simple history of their medical problems. This is a step I’ve urged in the past, in blogs such as Thanksgiving Is National Family History Day and Those Who Forget Their History . . .
Today, though, I’m going to impart a little secret that will ingratiate yourself with your doctor and not only improve the care you receive, but also reduce the amount of time you spend in the exam room.
When you go to your doctor, have a brief written history printed out for him or her.
I’ve created a sample based on the one I use for my Dad (the details have been changed). It gets updated, and goes with him, for every doctor’s visit.
And his doctors love it.
While every history will be different, there are a few `rules’.
- First, keep it to 1 page. Even if the patient has an `extensive history’. If your doctor can’t scan this history, and glean the highlights, in 60 seconds or less . . . it isn’t of much use.
- Second, paint with broad strokes. Don’t get bogged down in details. Lab tests and such should already be in your chart.
- Third, always fill in a reason for your visit. Keep it short, your doctor will probably have 10 to 15 minutes to spend with you. Have your questions and concerns down in writing before you get there.
- Fourth, list all Meds (Rx and otherwise) and indicate which ones you need a refill on. If you have a question about a med, put a `?’ next to it. And if you have any drug allergies, Highlight them.
- Fifth, Make two copies! One for your doctor to keep, and one for you. As you talk to your doctor, make notes on the bottom (bring a pen) of your copy.
Once you create the basic template (using any word processor), it becomes a 5 minute job to update and print two copies out for a doctor’s visit.
I get raves from every doctor I present this to. They have all said they wished more people would take the time to prepare for their visits.
Try it, you’ll be amazed how much more productive your next encounter with your doctor will be.