How to Prepare for Health Care Visits
- Think about your main reason for going to the doctor and what you want to get from the visit—stay focused.
- Take care of any drug use needs before the appointment. Schedule appointments when you can be alert and won’t be in withdrawal. This will help you focus on the visit and won’t distract the doctor from the health care needs you want addressed. If you show up for your appointment too high, the doctor may ask to reschedule your appointment.
- Make a list of questions you have for the doctor. You may not get to ask all of your questions. Mark the questions that are most important to you.
- Write down your symptoms. Include what the symptoms are, when they started, how often you have them and how severe they are on a scale of 0 (no pain) to 5 (the worst pain you could imagine). Be realistic.
- Make a list of medications that you are taking and other doctors that you are seeing. Include prescribed medications as well as over-the-counter medicines, supplements and herbal treatments.
- Bring someone with you when you go to the doctor. It is good to have someone to keep you company, to help advocate for you.
- Do your best to be on time (or even early) for the appointment. Arrange transportation and/or money for transportation to and from your visit ahead of time. If you think you might be late or have to cancel your appointment—call the office as soon as you can.
- Make sure you have your IDs and/or medical insurance card (if you have one) ready to bring with you. It’s a good idea to keep copies of all of these documents.
Identification (ID) and Contact Information
Most health care clinics will require that you have one or more forms of identification (ID) such as a state driver’s license or ID card, passport, military ID, etc. If you don’t have or don’t want to give a social security number, it is better to say you don’t know it than to give a fake number. Even if you don’t have an ID, or don’t want to give your real name or contact information, you will still be able to get some health care in the ER. If you’re admitted to the hospital, you should give truthful information for billing and medical record purposes. There are many benefits to giving your right name and contact information. It allows the health care provider to contact you with important test results, if your medication needs to be changed, or if anything else important comes up.