What should I bring to a doctor's visit?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

When I see patients for the first time, I am delighted—ecstatic—if they bring two things: a baggie filled with every medication, vitamin, herb or whatever else they take regularly (in the original bottles or containers) and a copy of their health profile.

A health profile, simply, is a form (or, much more commonly, several forms) that lists all the info pertinent to your health: current and past medical problems, your family health history, any medications or supplements you're taking and other critical info.

Toting a copy of your health profile is the sign of a patient who means business, one who will challenge me to be at my absolute best and won't waste time and money on redundant and unnecessary efforts (which can contribute to errors). Store copies of the forms in a fireproof safe, and update them yearly and whenever any key info changes.

YOU: The Smart Patient: An Insider's Handbook for Getting the Best Treatment

More About this Book

YOU: The Smart Patient: An Insider's Handbook for Getting the Best Treatment

Everyone needs to become a smart patient. In fact, in the worst cases, your life may even depend on it. Number one bestselling authors and doctors Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz have written this indispensable handbook to help everyone to get the best health care possible -- by making everyone into their own medical detective.Witty, playful, at times offbeat, but always authoritative, You: The Smart Patient shows you how to become your own medical sleuth, tracing your medical family tree and wending your way through the pitfalls of any health care situation. Written in conjunction with the health care community's leading oversight group, The Joint Commission, the book shows readers in clear, easy steps how to take control of their own health care and deal with all matters that may come up when facing a medical case: from choosing the right doctor, hospital, and insurance company to navigating prescription drugs, specialists, treatment options, alternative medicine, pain management, or any problem that might arise.Accessible, humorous, and filled with information that you need, You: The Smart Patient is a book for every patient and all those dealing with a loved one's medical issues.
Barbara Ficarra, RN
Nursing Specialist

Before you visit with your doctor, write down any questions you may have. By being prepared and organized, you will be able to communicate effectively with your doctor. Some general questions you may want to ask your doctor are:

  • What are the causes of my symptoms?
  • Will the symptoms go away? 
  • How long will they last?
  • What tests, if any, are needed to determine this condition?
  • How is this condition diagnosed?
  • What is the treatment? 
  • Are there alternative therapies? 
  • Will I need medications?
  • Are they over-the-counter medications or is it a prescription?
  • What do I need to know about these medications? 
  • Will my present medications interfere with any of these new medications?
  • Should my diet change?  Are there certain foods that I should be eating? 
  • What lifestyle changes should be made?

Also, carrying an updated medical history and a current list of your medications is very helpful. Many times patients will visit more than one doctor. It’s important that your medical history and medication history is shared with your doctor.

It’s okay to take notes during your visit to make it easier for you to remember information. Write down specific instructions and ask questions if you don’t understand something.

Sometimes visiting your doctor can be frightening, and you may feel a little uneasy. It’s helpful to bring a trusted family member or friend with you; they can help ease your anxiety and so that you can obtain proper medical care.

Dr. Susan S. Blum, MD
Preventive Medicine Specialist

I ask my patients to bring all their previous lab testing for the past five years, and any other results of testing.

Bring to your doctor visit two things: your medical history (medical conditions, past surgeries, drug allergies) and all current medications (prescription, vitamins and herbal).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.