Gary's Guidance: Talking To Your Doctor

October 2013

Many of us are OK with going to a medical doctor for an annual routine office visit or for follow-up appointments.  Sometimes we may dread going to the doctor’s office because of fear and uncertainty relating to a medical condition and symptoms causing problems.  Since physicians and other medical specialists are so busy, we have little time in direct contact with our doctors.  Whether you are a senior citizen or a young adult, here are some suggestions to get the most out of your visit to your doctor by taking time and preparation before your next medical appointment.

When your doctor prescribes medication, make sure you ask:

  • Why is this medication being prescribed?
  • When do I take the medication(s) and how many?  Do I take medication with or without food or other medicines?
  • What about grapefruit/juice?  I heard that eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while taking medications may be harmful to me.
  • What are the side effects of the medication and what to do if I have side effects?
  • What might happen if I don’t take medication or skip one or more doses?

Tips to follow:

  • Bring a list of medications you are taking including over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and dietary supplements.
  • Make 2 lists, one for you and one for your doctor of questions, symptoms or problems.  Make sure you provide full information about your health, symptoms, needs, and preferences.
  • Ask what happens if you don’t follow doctor’s recommendations or refuse treatment.
  • Request lab tests or medical test results be mailed to you, and for your doctor to contact you with any problems.
  • Bring a friend or family member with you to the doctor’s appointment for support.
  • Find out the best time to contact your doctor after an appointment if you have questions.

Asking questions can help build trust between you and your doctor, and avoid inappropriate care.


Gary Kozick, LCSW

(215) 510-8901