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Dos and Donts - Visiting the Doctor: Maximize Your Visit!!

1. Always make an appointment.

An appointment allows your doctor and you to devote time to your health. If it is a complicated problem, make sure to tell
the secretary. She will plan the time accordingly.

It is better to put off the appointment to a different date than to try to rush things ( You wouldn't want your mechanic to fix your car in a hurry... )

2. Make an appointment as soon as you decide you want to see a doctor.

Patients frequently complain about having to wait for weeks to see a specialist, after having waited for months to make the appointment!

Even appointments with Dr. Hoffman ("same-day appointments" ) should be made as early as possible. Don't wait till the afternoon of the third day of a fever to try to make an urgent appointment!

Call in the morning!! The sooner you call; the simpler the task.

3. Take your health seriously, and so will your doctor.

If you have a health problem, follow through with the diagnostic and treatment program the doctor discussed with you. It is difficult for your doctor to take your problem seriously if he feels you don't.

As far as the doctor sees things, not doing the lab tests; not making an appointment to see the consultant or not taking the medicines are signs that the patient is not serious about solving the problem.

If you have a problem with the "plan" discuss it immediately with your doctor. Use alternative communication methods whenever possible ( as opposed to face to face ) e-mail, fax, mail or a phone call will get the plan back on track!

4. Make sure the diagnostic and treatment plans are clear before you part.

A patient - doctor meeting usually generates a "working diagnosis". According to this diagnosis a treatment plan is generally made; and if need be, a "workup" ( diagnostic testing plan ) . It is important for you to understand the plan; and know what you are supposed to do and when to return to the doctor.

5. Make your intentions clear!

It is very important your doctor knows if you intend to follow the plan. There is no point in hiding your intentions from your doctor.

If you don't plan on doing the tests, or taking the treatment; tell me. You can't base a health care partnership on keeping your intentions secret.

Do not worry about hurting the doctor's feelings. We are used to having our recommendations ignored. If the doctor thinks you are in the process of checking something, and you aren't; you are delaying the your diagnosis and correct treatment.

6. Update your doctor.

Tell your doctor about all tests, treatment or consultations you have had since your last visit. Your family physician is supposed
to know all your medical history, so make sure your "file" is up to date and as complete as possible.

Frequently patients ask for information from years ago, even if they did the exam elsewhere.

So update us, by letter; e-mail; fax; or dropping off a photocopy.

7. Don't update me on the street.

Patients often tell me their health news in passing, on the street, or when on the phone, or during another relative's appointment.
Remember we want your file updated. So send in the information; or come in for an appointment.

8. Don't load too many subjects on one appointment.

Patients sometimes come in after a year or more with a list of problems they have "gathered" over the year. They usually are
proud of "saving up" the visits.

This does not work. Doctors can usually only relate to one serious subject per appointment. The more we try to "stuff" into an appointment; the less serious the attention we devote to it.

It is better to divide the problems into a number of meetings, and treat them seriously.

9. If you have a number of health issues to discuss, start with the most important!

It is a good idea to start the meeting by telling your doctor you have a number of subjects to discuss. It is very important to
spend the most time and effort on helping you with the most important and urgent medical issue.

Your doctor may help you decide which problems to relate to at the current time, and which to deal with at a later date. Patients often spend their entire appointment time discussing minor or even other people's health problems, and only when the appointment time is finished bring up the subject they actually came for.

Remember that an appointment is only set for fifteen minutes, and times passes quickly in a discussion! If you need more time, you have to tell the secretary when you make the appointment. Only you know what you plan to discuss.

10. Bring your doctor all your test results.

Discharge letters, letters from consultants, CT results etc. There is little point in meeting your doctor to discuss something
without him being able to see what you have done. An Emergency Room discharge letter may include important information that
your doctor is supposed to know.

If you are giving a medicine, make sure you know what is called. Write it down! You will find it hard to remember, and your doctor will want to know.

11. Don't go to the ER without a letter.

Every day for the last fifteen years patients come to me, shocked and angry at their Kupat Holim. They discovered they are supposed to pay the 580 NIS bill for going to the ER. The kupot claim that it is obvious ( it's written in the services guide in the first 15 pages that no one reads ).

None of the kupot will pay for a visit to the ER without a written referral from a doctor. The kupot have "Mokedim" for out of hours service. A house call doctor is also available and a lot less expensive than a ER visit. The quality of the house call may
leave a little to be desired; but you can use this service to get a letter sending you to the ER! You can not get a referral
letter the next day!

If it is an emergency, and you are hospitalized, or a fracture was diagnosed; or stitching is needed you do not need a letter. Think you have to go to the ER? Call your doctor first! Can't get him? Call the kupah's 24 hour number!

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