Despite advances in electronic medical records, patients’ medical information may not always be readily available for all their doctors to access. There are a lot of laws protecting the privacy of patients. Even within the same institution, doctors can use different computer systems so your pain doctor may not have information on your most recent hospital visit, for example.
You can have a smoother and also more effective doctor’s appointment if you come prepared. If your doctor has all the information that they need, they are better able to diagnose and treat your condition. I think this is especially true in pain management, where sometimes the underlying cause of the pain is unknown and a true whole-body investigation needs to take place.
Here are some tips for your first clinic appointment:
- Before your appointment, review the timeline of your chronic pain. If you need to, write it out. By doing this exercise, you will likely remember more details than if you try to tell your story for the first time at your visit. Many people say they walk out of their appointment and then remember many details they forgot.
- Come with a list of all your medications, including herbals, vitamins, and dietary supplements
- Have a list of all your medical problems and recent hospitalizations.
- If you have seen other specialists about your pain issues, have a list of whom you saw and what they said. Bring phone numbers for these providers, as well. Many times, doctors of different specialties will discuss your case and try to coordinate a plan together.
- Have a list of all of the treatments you have tried thus far and whether they have helped, including the dates you had them (physical therapy, chiropractor, acupuncture, surgeries, injections, medications etc.).
- Obtain copies of your prior imaging studies (MRI, Ct scan etc.). If you can obtain the actual CD of the images from the original facility along with a copy of the report, please do. Also, always keep the original copy with you.
- Keep a pain diary for several weeks or a month before your visit. In the diary, detail things such as characteristics of the pain, the location of pain, quality of sleep, what makes your pain better or worse, activity levels, etc. Click here for my sample pain diary attachment.
- Come with a family member or another individual who knows your history well, if possible. If you have memory issues and cannot have a family member come with you, please have the phone number of a family member the doctor can call if they have further questions.
- Bring a written list of questions so all your needs can be addressed at your appointment.
Disclaimer: This website (including all pages and blog posts) is not intended to replace the services of a physician, nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a medical or health condition. To schedule an appointment at Revitalize Medical Center, please call (847) 834-4018.