Welcome to Part VII of our series brought to you by Mark Lachs, MD, Author of Treat Me, Not My Age: A Doctor’s Guide to Getting the Best Care as You or a Loved One Gets Older
Get a specific follow-up plan. At the end of the visit, you should leave with several “action items” that need to be followed up on. These could be blood tests or X-rays, a referral to another doc, or a change of medication. Go over with your doctor what’s going to happen and when once you walk out the door. Example: “So I’m going to get an MRI of my head for these headaches. Will you be calling me with the results even if they’re normal, or should I call you?” Or: “So I start taking the medication for my knee arthritis tomorrow. When should I come back to see you to assess whether or not it’s been effective?” Or: “Will you be calling Dr. Jones, the lung doctor, to explain why you’re sending me?” Again, getting the follow-up plan clear and setting expectations goes a long way toward avoiding miscommunication and trouble down the road.