What to take to your doctor's appointment

Ann M. Hester, M.D.

So, you’ve made an appointment to see your doctor. Now what? Know what to take with you to each visit to optimize your time with the doctor.

Regardless of the visit type, take the following:

  • Insurance card
  • Your medications/medication list
  • List of your questions for the day. It would be best if you prioritize the questions in order of their importance to you. If you run out of time, you want to ensure the most pressing issues are addressed and not pushed back to a future appointment.
  • Any pertinent outside documents germane to the visit
  • Your personal health records (if this is your first visit).
  • If you have a chronic condition, such as high blood pressure, take a log of your blood pressure readings.

Your doctor wants to know what’s going on with you, so be active in your own healthcare. You can purchase a blood pressure cuff at your local pharmacy. Check your blood pressure readings at different times during the day and make a chart for your doctor. Then, when you go to your appointment, take the log with you so she can see what your blood pressure readings have been running at home. Also, take the blood pressure cuff itself. You want to check the reading from the blood pressure cuff you bought against the reading from the doctor’s professional blood pressure cuff.

Some consumer cuffs are very accurate, and others are not. If you have diabetes, take a log of your blood sugar readings. Also, note things that happened when your blood sugars were exceptionally high or low. For instance, if you notice a low blood sugar reading, report what you ate that day and the day before. Also, note whether you took your medicine before the reading. If your blood sugar is exceptionally high, do the same. This will help your doctor put your readings in context. These are just two examples of logs you can create that will help your doctor help you. There are others. Check with your doctor to see what information she would like you to obtain at home and bring with you on visits.