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Before You Visit a New Doctor

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Updated: November 8, 2006

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With diseases like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, you may find yourself visiting multiple doctors, each of whom needs certain basic information in order to give you the best possible treatment. Coming prepared with that information will:
  • Make it easier to fill out the forms required of all new patients.
  • Demonstrate to the doctor that you take your health seriously.
  • Allow more time for the doctor to address your current concerns.
Ideally this information should be typed into your computer and saved so you can simply update it and print out a copy whenever you visit a new doctor.

Medical History

Make a list of significant medical events in your life (i.e., surgeries, major illnesses and injuries) with the approximate year they occurred. Be sure to note when you were first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or other chronic illnesses. Double-space between items. Keep the list as simple and easy-to-read as possible, without sacrificing important information. The doctor needs to be able to look over the page(s) quickly without having to stop and read long paragraphs. He or she may then ask you for more information about particular events.

Treatment History

With illnesses like FM and CFS, there is no single treatment plan that works for everyone. Most patients have to try a variety of medications and alternative treatments before discovering a combination that works best for them. It’s important to give your new doctor a list of treatments you have tried in the past with a notation about how you responded to each one. This can help both you and your doctor save time and prevent the frustration and expense of repeating treatments that don’t work for you.

Allergies

Make a list of anything you have had an allergic reaction to. List medications first, followed by foods and environmental sensitivities.

Medications

List all medications you are currently taking, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, supplements and herbal remedies. Don’t forget inhalers or any medicinal creams or gels you might be using. Your list should include the name of the medication, the strength of the medication (e.g., 50 milligrams) and the dosing instructions. (If possible, bring original containers of all medications to your first visit.) It is critically important that you include ALL medications so the doctor doesn’t inadvertently prescribe something that would cause an adverse drug reaction.

Other Doctors

Have the name, address, phone number and specialty of any doctors you have seen in the past two years and note what you saw them for in case your new doctor needs to request your records.

Test Results

If you have a copy of the results of recent blood work or other lab tests, bring those with you. It will help the doctor to be able to compare previous results with any new tests he might order. If your lab work is very recent, it could save you a lot of money by not having to repeat tests already done.

Current Symptoms

Make a list of all symptoms you currently experience on a regular basis. Describe the symptom as clearly as possible and note when the symptom began and how frequently it occurs. When listing pain as a symptom, try to describe the type of pain (i.e., stabbing, throbbing, sharp, aching), the location of the pain, how long it lasts, and its severity (using a scale of 0 to 10 with zero being no pain and 10 being unbearable pain).

Questions

Write down all of the questions you want to ask the doctor and give him a copy. Visiting a new doctor is stressful and there’s a good chance you will forget something if it’s not written down. Also, if the doctor has a copy of your questions in front of him, he’s less likely to answer one or two questions then leave the room, thinking you are done.

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