Getting the Most out of Doctor Visits


Updated April 24, 2013

  1. Make a list of your most pressing concerns/symptoms
  2. List current medications, dosages and frequency
    • List discontinued medications
      • When started
      • When discontinued
      • Why discontinued
      • Side effects?
  3. Bring photos (digitally or in print)
  4. Bring medical records
    • Organize records with most recent dates first
      • By specialties
      • Labs: Highlight date collected and abnormal levels
      • Biopsies: Highlight date collected, biopsy type and location, and key findings
      • Imaging: Highlight date performed and key findings
  5. Know your most recent lab and biopsy information
  6. Create, print and share a timeline of symptoms and major health events, like ER visits to condense your story
  7. Bring scale diary (digitally or in print) to help quantify your symptoms so your provider can better gage your progress, especially for a baseline or when tracking effectiveness of a new treatment
  8. Bring your journal to help trigger your memory and go more in-depth than the scale diary for a qualitative review of your symptoms and progress

I’m following this list for the most part but not 100% in one appointment. I will be for my next appointment!

No. 8 may be overkill but for those with “feel-good amnesia,” like me, it can help when/if you delve deeper into your daily life with your provider, especially for new providers or before starting new treatments.



Use the above list plus the following items from to help make you and your provider confirm or rule-out your diagnosis:

  1. Symptoms Checklist
  2. Medication Options
  3. Algorithm from Goldman’s Cecile Medicine textbook
  4. Sweet’s Syndrome & Other Neutrophilic Dermatoses

Books for Patients

Hill, S. The Knowledgeable Patient: Communication and Participation in Health. Chichester, West Sussex : John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Available online and in print.

Irwig L, et al. Smart Health Choices: Making Sense of Health Advice.London: Hammersmith Press; 2008. Available online and in print.

Evans I, et al. Testing Treatments: Better Research for Better Healthcare. 2nd edition. London: Pinter & Martin; 2011. Available online and in print.