What Your Doctor Wants to Know


Get the most out of your next doctor visit. Dr. Margit Lister shares “insider” tips to help you communicate with your doctor.

Let’s first start with the paper work PRIOR to your visit. This is YOUR homework!!

This is a PAIN in the backside. We all know it. But like a colonoscopy, very medically important for you’re health and well being.

The biggest pet peeve of physicians’ is when a patient is on a medication and they don’t know the name, quantity or the frequency in which they take the drug.

KNOW YOUR MEDICATIONS!!! I can’t stress this enough. Physicians’ have no idea what color your medication is that you are taking. The ‘blue pill for diabetes’ is not helpful.

Know the NAME, the DOSE (the numbers behind the name) and how often you take it!

Allergies to Medications:

The name of the medication and the reaction that you had is what we are looking for. If you don’t know the reaction, just say it was a childhood reaction or my family is very sensitive to this medication.

Your Medical History.

This is where things get BORING. I think it is very helpful to fill this out ONCE at home and copy this for the doctor you are seeing. There maybe more questions at the doc’s office then on a generic medical history, but the basic stuff will be about the same.

There are usually general medical histories on most physicians’ web site. We have them on our site under Patient Resources. I think if you fill this out and save it, you can just add any new surgeries or medical history as you go. Try to only put things on there that a physician is treating you for. If you think you have migraine headaches, but have never been diagnosed with a “migraine” by a doctor. Leave that out of your history, and put it in the review of systems that you have headaches.

Some hospitals and insurance companies have services where you can record your medical history in your chart. My health, with Select Health and Intermountain Health Care is an example.

Lastly, Your family history is about your family ONLY. Leave your history out.

Your medical history is important information that builds a picture of the health or sickness that makes you. If I spend 20 minutes of my 30 minute appointment, trying to get an accurate history of your medical care, it leaves me with very little time to hear your main concern, examine you and determine your treatment course. As much as you can do BEFORE the visit will help your doctor get through this in a timely and accurate fashion.

Your Problem: This is why you are coming anyway!

Pain is the most frequent reason to see a physician. There are specific things we wish to know about your pain.

First where is it?

When did it start? Dates are extremely helpful.

What does it feel like? Cramp? Ache? Sharp/Dull? burning, stinging, ripping?

Is it constant or does it come and go?

Scale of the pain? 0 = no pain, 10 is ripping your leg off without anesthesia.

Does it move somewhere else?

What makes it worse?

What makes it better?

What do you think is going on?

Some people use the memory aid, “LOCATES” to help remember all the things that physicians wish to know about your pain.

L: Location of the pain and whether it moves to other body parts.

O: Other associated symptoms such as nausea, numbness, or weakness.

C: Character of the pain, whether it’s throbbing, sharp, dull, or burning.

A: Aggravating and alleviating factors. What makes the pain better or worse?

T: Timing of the pain, how long it lasts, is it constant or intermittent?

E: Environment where the pain occurs, for example, while working or at home.

S: Severity of the pain. Use a 0-to-10 pain scale from no pain to worst ever.

Helpful tips:

ü Bring your medications or a list with you! Even the over the counter medications.

ü Know your medical history, or better yet, have this filled out BEFORE you arrive.

ü Know what is going on with you. Try to figure it out before your visit. You know your body the best!

Dr. Margit Lister is an OBGYN with Intermountain Health Care. If you would like to schedule an appointment, visit: www.intermountainclinics.org.

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