A friend of mine had an appointment today for follow-up with her surgeon. She already had a cat scan and a pet scan to determine if her cancer had returned. When she was waiting for the doctor with a paper gown, she was asked where the test results were. Here are some suggestions on being prepared when going to the doctor so you can negotiate like a pro:
1. Don’t assume that anyone knows more about your specific medical situation than you do.
Therefore, it is your responsibility to have a copy of all your records in your own file. This will really come in handy when you are giving your history for a new doctor or for a new procedure.
2. Have the telephone and fax numbers of all your doctors.
When my friend mentioned that her procedure was done by a doctor in the same hospital, she was still asked for his telephone number. It is good to have all those numbers or staple all the business cards to the cover of your folder so it is handy.
3. Just because one of your doctors is in the same hospital don’t assume that the records are readily available.
My friend had her cat scan done in the office of her general practitioner and, therefore, the record was not available in the hospital’s database.
4. Ask for your own CD copy of any test.
Instead of relying on the hospital’s or doctor’s records, you can just bring your own CD to your appointment (be sure to ask for it back.) In addition, you can ask for a copy of any report. IF the report is faxed to your doctor, ask them to fax a copy to you as well.
5. If you are having a procedure, bring a friend.
Four ears are always better than two. If you have been sedated, you may be a little shaky. If you are anxious, it may be hard to focus. You can assign your friend or relative the job of writing everything down so you can read it when you are in a better state of mind.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for a prescription for anxiety medication
If you are having a procedure that may cause anxiety or is claustrophobic, ask for anxiety medication. Sometimes they forget to ask you about this. Of course, if you take something for anxiety, you will need someone to drive you to the procedure and perhaps steady you while you walk.
If you follow these rules, you will be able to negotiate with your doctor like a pro.