Doctor reveals the best way to prepare for your next appointment

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If you’ve ever felt rushed during a doctor’s appointment, you won’t be surprised to learn that physicians only give patients 11 seconds on average to explain the reason for their visit before interrupting.

That’s according to a study from University of Florida researchers that was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

How to make the most out of your next visit to the doctor 

What’s a patient to do? Primary care physician Dr. John Hong told that interruptions can ruin your train of thought, so it’s important to write down the reason for your visit before you arrive.

“On average, a doctor can only address four main problems,” Dr. Hong says. “It’s a great idea to spit them out at the beginning and make sure that you address the most important one of them all.”

Knowing in advance the questions that your doctor is going to ask can really save a lot of time, he says.

OPQRST-AAA is a mnemonic that medical professionals use, according to Dr. Hong. He says it’s a useful tool to help you make your pre-appointment notes, which should be concise.

OPQRST-AAA example

  • Onset: When did your symptoms start?
  • Progression: Is it getting better, worse or about the same?
  • Quality: If it’s pain, is it dull or sharp?
  • Radiation: Where does the pain spread to?
  • Severity: Mild, moderate, severe?
  • Timing: Does it stay around all day? Is it worse at night?
  • Associated with: Nausea, vomiting, weight loss, fever?
  • Alleviates: Do medications or sleep help?
  • Aggravates: Walking, eating or maybe not getting enough sleep?

Dr. Hong says it’s a good idea to bring a list of medications and supplements that you take, along with dosage information.

Finally, if you’re having difficulty communicating with your doctor or any health care provider, have a discussion with them to ask what you can do to make the most out of your visits.

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