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Seven tips for making your medical appointment go smoothly

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These are some short guidelines that can definitely make any appointment you have - especially when you're at a satellite facility or imaging center - run more smoothly.

1. Write down your medications with the bottles in front of you, and make sure they're spelled correctly. All too often, there's only a single letter difference between two very, very different trademarked names. And too often, those names have silent q's, y's, and other unusual spellings. Even if you've already told medical professionals at, say, your family doctor, the lab in another building may not have - but need - that information.

2. Your doctor should be able to tell you what any test will entail - at least in general terms. If they can't - or worse, if they're completely wrong - you may want to consider this a reflection on their quality as a physician. In the meantime, call the testing center. It's better to bug them briefly beforehand than have a bigger problem later.

3. Research. Many tests are done slightly differently at different facilities. However, if you see that not eating is a common requirement of a test, and your doctor didn't mention it, you should probably call the facility to make sure you got told correctly.

4. Arriving early does not translate into being seen early. Especially in medicine. Plan ahead; bring a book.

5. If you're going to a test, have the ordering doctor's phone number. Mistakes happen; having the right number to call makes the resolution happen faster.

6. Hospitals and imaging facilities cannot automatically prescribe you medication, give you refills, or even take your blood pressure. Don't expect them to.

7. You will need to be able to tell them your medical history. HIPPA (the privacy act thing) means that many times, ancillary facilities don't know more about your medical history than what is actually written on the order. (This is also the reason for #6.)

What tips and suggestions do you have? Share them in the comments!

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