Preparing for medical appointments

Some of our members tell us it can be daunting to attend hospital or GP appointments, and find it hard to remember and organise their information quickly. The increase in telephone appointments have also made this harder for some.  As these will probably be here for some time to come, we’ve prepared these notes to assist you to get ready. 

Use these notes as a checklist, before the appointment, so you have the information you may need at hand when asked, together with a list of any medication you take 

  • In one sentence, what is the symptom or sign that you need the doctor to know about, or reason for the appointment. 

 For example 

  • “I have a new pain in my back” 
  • “I am severely constipated” 
  • “I think I have a UTI” 
  • “I have a sore on my heel” 
  • “I vomit after eating” 
  • “We want to plan for a baby” 

How long have you had it?

  • A diary can help keep track of symptoms that come and go

What have you already tried to resolve it?

  • medication, dressings, exercise 

When is it better? 

  • times of day, after rest, after exercise etc 

When is it worse? 

  • times of day, positioning, after food etc 

How is it affecting you? 

  • difficulty sleeping, unable to work/drive/concentrate/eat 

Have you ever had it before?

  • If so, what was the diagnosis/treatment? 

Is it something visible, such as swelling, a sore or a lump?

  • Are you able to send pictures? 

What is your biggest concern about it?

  • Have you any thoughts or fears of what it might be? 

What do you hope to get out of the appointment? 

  • More information about your condition, lifestyle advice, a plan for treatment, medication, a referral to a specialist.

If you wish to be referred to a specific service, which service, and why?  

If your memory is an issue, ask the clinician if you can record the advice to help you remember what was said. Have a notepad and pen handy to write down important information, check at the end of the appointment that you have the key points, and that you know what will happen next, and when. Check whether you need to do anything else now. 

Preparing for pre-surgery appointments

Before any planned admissions for surgery, there is usually an appointment to help you and the hospital prepare. At the moment, this includes swabs for MRSA (bacteria on the skin or in the nose that are resistant to many antibiotics) and instructions on when and where you are tested for  coronavirus, and what to do once you’ve had the test. 

It can be an opportunity to let hospital staff know about:

Your mobility needs, and any equipment you use

  • for example, hoists, wheelchairs 

Your bladder and bowel routines

  • They may be less familiar with methods like trans-anal irrigation and this gives them time to prepare 

Your skin and tissues

  • Any sores, or healed sores, as the skin can remain very fragile, risk factors for pressure sores and what equipment you need to protect your pressure areas. This gives a chance for the hospital to have the correct mattress available for you. If you will be bringing your own pressure reliving cushions etc, let them know 

Your care package

  • Especially if you only expect to be admitted for a short time,  

Allergies-latex, medication, foods 

  • Important medical information, such as previous reactions to anaesthetic, your shunt or other illnesses like diabetes. 

Shine’s Hospital Passport will help you gather this information in one place 

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