T. Atilla Ceranoglu, MD

Your family's next doctor visit

How to make best use of your meeting

Rumor has it most doctors spend only a few minutes with each of their patients and that the medical charts and insurance documents take more of their time. In fact, most physicians have expressed discontent and concern that time with their patients is diminishing as administrative burdens increase. Using time-motion study technics, where physician movements are tracked, researchers found that average amount of time doctors spent face-to-face with their patients have increased but remained under the desired time.

From the visitor's point of view, a trip to a doctor's office can be intimidating, regardless of one's educational and economic status. The information revealed and received can be worrisome and anxiety provoking. The treatment recommendations can be complicated and often require a change from one's routine, such as bedtime, eating habits and exercise program that may be difficult to adjust.

For parents with a sick child, added challenges may include feeling worried about their loved ones' illness.  Human physiology is such that when overwhelmed it may become further difficult to pay attention to important details. Hesitation may silence a request for repeat of important instructions.

Therefore, here are 5 things that you can do to make sure you get the most out of your visit to your doctor:

Make a list. Human memory can hold 3-5 items actively in mind at any given time, so do not count on remembering every question. Before the appointment, write down a list of things you need to tell the doctor. Ask if your child has any questions. Likewise, before leaving your doctor's office, go over the list to be sure you've covered everything.

Bring the medications. Write down the names and dosages of any prescriptions, including oral contraceptives and do not forget to include over-the-counter medications.

Arrive few minutes early. There might be some forms related to your doctor's visit that require your attention. Doctors often run on a schedule to give due attention and diligence to each patient. Being there on time will ensure that you enjoy the entire time the appointment is scheduled.

Remember it is confidential. Do not hesitate to answer your doctor's questions, no matter how embarrassing or personal the answer might be.

Ask, ask, ask. Never feel embarrassed or shy about a request for clarification. There is no such thing as “a simple or silly question” when it comes to health, but there are most important 3 questions:

    - What is my main problem?

    - What do I need to do to improve it?

    - Why is it important that I do it?