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Giving Doctors the Data They Need

Tips to helping your new physician help you

SUNDAY, March 20, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Switching doctors? Start the relationship off on the right foot with a few simple steps, advises Dr. Caroline Rudnick, a Saint Louis University family physician.

"Having a good relationship with your doctor is important. You should be comfortable discussing your lifestyle and health history so your doctor can best address your health concerns and keep you healthy," she said in a prepared statement.

"Information is a powerful weapon, and if I'm armed, I can do a better job helping a patient fight to stay healthy," she noted.

Rudnick said there are five key points to discuss with a doctor on a first visit:

  • Past medical history. Tell you doctor what illnesses you've had, what procedures you've had done, and your hospitalizations.
  • Medications. Bring all your medication containers with you so the doctor can get the correct name and dosage. Remember to mention if you're allergic to any medicines.
  • Family history. Many serious health problems such as heart disease, high cholesterol, some cancers, hypertension, diabetes and mental illness run in families. Talk to your family members first, to help compile as complete and accurate a family profile as possible.
  • Social history. This includes lifestyle information such as diet, exercise routines, how much your sleep, whether you drink or smoke or take drugs. The doctor may also ask who you live and whether you have pets.
  • Your doctor's experience and practice philosophy. Ask the doctor where he or she went to medical school, how long they have been practicing, and whether they have a particular philosophy in treating patients.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about communicating with your doctor.

SOURCE: Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center, news release, February, 2005
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