5 Things Your Doctor Wants You to Know

Do you want to make the most out of your time with your doctor? Here are five things your doctor wants you to know before making an appointment with him or her:

1. Health History – A brief overview of your health record gives your doctor a general idea of your condition. He or she will want to know if you have any chronic illnesses, past surgeries and any related complications, hospitalizations, urgent care visits or recurring problems. In addition to your physical health, it’s important to mention any significant mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, as your emotional health is a key component of your overall well-being.

“Knowing your history gives me an idea of your past, present and future health,” said Angel Javier Rodriguez, M.D., a Baptist Health Medical Group physician with Baptist Health Primary Care.

2. Medication Inventory – On average, 55 percent of adults ages 55-64 have taken between one and four prescription medications within the last 30 days, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each visit to your doctor is an opportunity to review your medications and make any changes to optimize their effectiveness. So bring a list of medications you’re taking – including over-the-counter drugs, herbs, vitamins and supplements – and the dosages. Even better, says Dr. Rodriguez, is to bring the bottles to know the exact names and dosages. And be sure to mention any allergic reaction or bothersome side effects you’ve had from taking a certain type of medication.

3. Symptoms Synopsis – Be prepared to explain any symptoms you’ve been experiencing. Include when they started, frequency, severity and how are disruptive to your day-to-day activities. Be clear and direct. If your chief complaint is headaches, for example, is the pain is constant or intermittent? Sharp or dull? Does it stay in one place, or does it move around? What part of your head hurts? What alleviates the pain or makes it worse? The more specific you can be, the better able your doctor will be to uncover the root cause, and in turn, prescribe the most appropriate treatment.

4. Family Medical History – Your heredity can influence your health and help your doctor determine if you are at risk of developing a chronic disease or health condition in the future. Some diseases and health issues are more common among certain ethnic groups, prompting your doctor to recommend specific tests or screenings. Most important is the health history of immediate family members – parents, siblings and children. The next group of blood relatives to gather historical medical information about is grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews and grandchildren. Knowing the age at which family members were diagnosed and cause of death of any deceased family members are important facts to know.

“Family health history allows me to connect the dots to determine your risk factors of developing any chronic issues in the future or how to better control conditions you have now,” said Dr. Rodriguez.

5. The Truth – Doctors want to be your advocate, help you stay healthy or work with you to improve your health, if needed. But in order to be successful, they have to be working with facts. Be open and honest about your eating, exercise and lifestyle habits, including smoking and drinking.

“Always tell the truth, be upfront and come to the office with an open mind,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “I’m not your mom or dad, and I don’t judge. Everything we discuss is confidential.”

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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