What is my responsibility as a patient (The Dos and Don’ts)

This is an interesting subject to talk about on this edition of the doc talk. I chose this topic because I wanted to bring some awareness from a physician’s perspective. I have been in private practice for several years. In these years I have gained a wealth of knowledge and understanding from the perspective of a physician, patient, insurance, hospital, home care, physical therapy and many more ancillary services provided to you as a patient. This is a vast topic, so for this talk we will stick to the outpatient doctor’s office visit. Let’s go through a few items.

Preparation prior to the office visit:

  • Keep a calendar and mark all the appointments.
  • Always keep a list of your medications with you all times. Make more than 1 copy if needed.
  • Get the blood work done prior to your appointment so that your doctor can review your labs and make necessary recommendations.
  • If you take more than 5 medications bring all the pill boxes to your next follow up appointment. If you are seeing more than 1 doctor, let’s say your PCP and other specialists, there may be changes made to your medications by different doctors. All your doctors should know your current medications and the dose. Medication errors is one of the major causes for morbidity and mortality. This can be avoided.
  • Try to keep your appointments and try not cancel or reschedule multiple times. This will cause a lot of wastage of time and chaos for your doctor and other service providers.  If you must reschedule, try to call in advance.
  • Before making a new patient appointment please be certain you wish to establish as a new patient and willing to see the doctor on a regular basis for follow up and stay in compliance with the guidelines. A lot of time and effort will be spent on you as a patient reviewing your medical history, prior documents, sending referrals etc . We have to respect each other’s time and effort. 
  • Arrange for transportation in advance.
  • Write down all your questions you want to discuss with your doctor. There is a time constraint, so you have to keep that in consideration.
  • Maintain hygiene. This will help with the other patients who will be sitting next to you. 

At the time of the Office visit:

  • Keep your ID card and insurance card updated and present it to the front desk person when asked.
  • Make certain your physician is listed on your insurance card or in the insurance website.
  • Be prepared to pay your copays and deductibles on the day of the service. Your doctor’s office is still a business that needs revenue and that is a collective responsibility on part of the patient, that is you and your insurance.
  • You must keep cell phones on silent mode. If you must talk to someone on your phone, take urgent calls only. All other calls can wait.
  • Ask all your questions when you talk to your doctor. Do not assume things. If there is any change in your medication or any new treatment has been suggested ask for a handout. The more you know the better.
  • Only pertinent physical exam will be performed. Do not expect a head-to-toe exam on every visit.
  • Before exiting the office ask for a written copy of the medication changes made.
  • Any treatment plan must be a shared decision making. We as physicians give you options and discuss the pros and cons of a treatment plan. You get to decide if you are willing to make the changes in agreement with your physician’s approval.
  • Before your leave the office you make a follow up appointment to ensure continuity of care.

After your appointment:

  • After your appointment when you reach home, put all your papers given to you in a folder.
  • Update your medication cabinet. The medications you no longer take or are not supposed to take, I suggest put them aside. Try to do it the same day so you remember. Take help from your family members if needed.
  • All controlled substances have to be kept away from reach from children.

In between your appointments:

  • If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, check your BP and blood sugars as directed. Keep a log. Bring it to your next appointment. This will help your doctor guide you regarding your medication dosage and blood work. This is important.
  • Call for your refills in advance. If you do not get your medications refilled on time, call again. You can do this through the pharmacy or through your PCP’s office.
  • Exercise and maintain a healthy diet.
  • Do not smoke and drink alcohol socially (for people who drink alcohol).
  • Maintain a good social circle and be active in your community.

As a physician our best interest is in your wellbeing. We would like to provide care to the best of our ability. We all must do our part to achieve the best outcome. We are here to serve you. Please make your appointment and take charge of your health. I hope this segment of doc talk was helpful. I’ve always wanted to touch on this subject, and I am glad I am doing it through my website. We encourage you to visit our website for updates and blogs. 

01 March 2023
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