What to do after a doctor’s visit

Follow up and follow through to ensure quality health care.

Michigan State University Extension has recently provided a series of articles on topics related to being an active participant of your own health care team to help ensure you are receiving quality health care. This article focuses on what to do after your visit is done. There are two things you should keep in mind after your doctor’s visit – follow up and follow through.

Follow up by making any future recommended appointments with your health care provider. Sometimes you need to return in a week, to few weeks to make sure treatments are working and to evaluate your condition status. It is easier to remember to do this before you leave the doctor’s office.

If your doctor wants you to follow up with a specialist, get some follow up tests or a second opinion, and be sure to retrieve any necessary referral forms. Before you make those appointments, be sure to check with your insurance to see if they are covered under your current policy – if yes, do you need a pre-authorization from your doctor beforehand? This could end up saving you money by avoiding unexpected expenses.

Follow through with any and all recommended instructions or treatments. If you have questions or problems, don’t be afraid to call. It is better to feel like a pest than to compromise your health. Let the doctor know if you feel the treatment isn’t working, or if you are having any side effects, even if they seem minor to you. If you are unable to take your medications for any reason, be sure to let your doctor know right away and don’t wait for a follow up visit.

Call the doctor if your symptoms get worse or if something else, even unrelated develops. Remember there are others on your health care team you can rely on, such as the nurses and physician assistants in the office.

If you had tests during your visit and have not heard back within the expected time, call your doctor. Sometimes things slip through the cracks, even in the most organized office. Many doctors only call if results are not normal and need follow up, and they don’t call if things are okay. However, you have a right to know either way. If you don’t hear back, call!

Doctors are expected to be experts in their field of medicine, however they really only know as much about you, as you tell them. Be open and honest and work to form a good two way partnership. To assure you get high quality health care, make sure that you are an “active participant” on your health care team.

For more information on making sure you receive the best health care quality, read Preparing for your doctor’s appointment and Getting the most of your doctor’s visit.

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