On average, doctors spend less than 10 minutes with patients. They also, on average, interrupt the patient within the first 23 seconds of the conversation. This is usually because most doctors have heavy patient loads and try their best to see as many patients as possible. Time is limited.
Optimize Time With Your Doctor
In order to make sure your doctor completely understands your problems, make sure you prepare for your ER or primary care doctor visit by preparing a list of questions, symptoms, medications and allergies.
You can ask questions like:
- How’s my overall health?
- Are you concerned about any aspect of my health? Which aspect and why?
- Are there any tests I should have based on my age or risk factors?
- What can go wrong during these tests? Is there a place you would recommend getting these tests (i.e. mammogram, stress test, sleep study, etc.)?
- Any recommendations about lifestyle modifications (such as exercising, quitting smoking or diet changes)?
- Can you draw me a picture or show me what's wrong?
- Is there more than one disease or condition that could be causing my symptoms?
- What caused the disease or condition?
- What is the short-term and long-term prognosis for my disease or condition?
- Will I need to see a specialist?
- Do I need to take precautions to avoid infecting others?
- Are you going to recommend a surgical procedure? If so, what?
To make it easier for your physician (and yourself), you can also write out your medical history and grab all of your medications and medical records (EKG, test results, imaging studies, etc.).
Always Tell The Truth
Doctors hear fictitious stories all the time. If you say you smoke one cigarette a day, they hear that you really smoke a pack a day. If you say that you exercise once a week, most likely, they hear you say you never exercise.