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How to Prepare for Your Initial Visit With Your New Doctor

Before your initial visit to a new doctor, make a list of things you want to tell him or her about your health history. Many offices will ask you to fill out a form, and may want details about:

  • surgeries you have had and when they occurred
  • current conditions for which you are being treated
  • prescription drugs you take (You may want to bring the bottles so you have correct information about strength and dosages.)
  • name and address of your previous doctor(s)
  • person to contact in an emergency
  • your employer's address and phone number
  • your insurance company and policy number (If you have an insurance I.D. card, be sure to bring it.)
  • family medical history

A very important step is to make and take with you a list of questions you want answered. These may include:

  • the doctor's specialty or special areas of practice
  • who covers the doctor's patients when he or she is not available
  • whether other physicians or non-physicians such as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant will participate in your care, and whether this is optional
  • special training the doctor may have in managing any medical conditions you have (such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.)
  • whether the doctor will provide care for others in your family
  • to what hospitals he or she can admit patients
  • if there are any restrictions on the doctor's hospital privileges
    Note: It is important that your doctor is able to admit you to a hospital if you need inpatient care. If he or she does not have admitting privileges, make sure you understand how hospitalizations will be handled.

After Your Initial Visit

You should feel that you were treated courteously, that all your questions were answered, and that you were not rushed or dismissed. Your relationship with a doctor is one of the most intimate in life; you should be able to trust him or her with the most private situations or problems, and should feel that your doctor is your ally. After the initial visit, if you are satisfied with what you experienced, great. If not, remember the choice is yours. Try another doctor. It is your health that is at stake.