to main content Prepare for Doctor Visits and Make a List of Questions | The Joint Commission

Prepare a list of questions and symptoms before you visit your doctor or go for a procedure or to the hospital. A doctor won’t be able to answer your questions if you don’t ask.

Bring a List of Questions

Do you ever get home from a doctor visit and suddenly think of a burning question you wish you’d asked during your visit an hour earlier? This is the case for a lot of people. It helps to think ahead of time about the reason for your visit and what you hope to get out of it. Talk it over with a friend or family member. You may find yourself with a list of questions. Bring them to your appointment and jot down the answers.

Learn more in this Take 5 podcast as Lisa DiBlasi Moorehead discusses why it’s important for a patient to play an active role in their care and be open and honest about symptoms, what to bring with to provider visits and what do to after a visit. Lisa DiBlasi Moorehead, EdD, MSN, RN, CENP is the Associate Nurse Executive in the division of Accreditation and Certification Operations at The Joint Commission.

Preparing for Virtual Visits

In today’s new normal, preparing for a doctor’s visit may look a little different and require additional preparation. As COVID-19 increases social distancing across the U.S., it’s no surprise that virtual medical appointments have seen a huge spike in popularity. Telemedicine isn’t new, but it’s been utilized more than ever during this stressful time of quarantine and self-isolation. Here are some ways to plan for a successful virtual visit.

In Person Visits

Health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, surgery centers and all sites of care are reopening as appropriate, and as state and local conditions allow. Precautions are being taken to ensure your care is safe and that you are protected. Patients should have confidence in seeking care, and trust that your health care providers are doing their best to keep you, your family, and your community safe. Therefore, you should not postpone necessary care or preventative care such as immunizations or cancer screening. Do not hesitate to reach out to your provider if you have any questions about when to seek treatment.

To prevent you from getting COVID-19, or giving it to others, you may be asked to do the following by your provider:

  • Wear a face covering. This helps limit your risk of getting or spreading COVID-19.
  • Avoid crowded waiting areas. Some practices may require patients to check in for their appointment from their car. You may be asked to wait in your car until your visit. Waiting rooms should have chairs spaced far apart to keep you and others safe.
  • Limit visitors or people who go to your appointment with you. Be prepared that you may not be allowed to bring anyone with you and if you typically accompany an elderly family member, you may be asked to wait in the car. Limiting the number of people limits your exposure. Visitors should also wear a face covering.
  • Screening before entering a facility. Your temperature may be taken, and you may be asked to use hand sanitizer and wear gloves. The office may call you a few days before your appointment to go over some screening questions. This means asking questions about your possible risk factors of having COVID-19. They may repeat these questions during your visit. You may also be asked additional information over the phone to reduce the amount of paperwork needed at the time of visit.

Discuss with your provider if you should get tested before going in for care. In some cases, such as before surgery, childbirth, or a procedure, it may be necessary to be tested for COVID-19.

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