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Tips & Tools for Appointments

What to Bring to Your Doctor's Appointments?

Here is a list of items you should bring to any appointment with a healthcare provider.

Most important:

  • Your health insurance card. 
  • A list of all the medications, vitamins, and supplements you’re taking. If it’s easier, you can just bring in all the bottles and have someone at the provider’s office make a list for you. Your healthcare provider should keep the list on file, but it’s always a good idea to go over it and make sure it’s correct and complete every time you go in.

Here’s a free checklist for your appointment!

  Also bring:

  • Your medical history. You or the provider you’re seeing can request this from your primary care provider or a previous provider.
  • A list of specialists you’ve seen.
  • Notes regarding any current symptoms you’re experiencing (for example, “I feel more tired lately,” “I feel pain in this part of my body”). It’s a good idea to mention any symptoms you’ve noticed, even if you don’t think they are related to the reason you’re seeing the provider.
  • A list of questions you want to ask the provider. There are no bad questions!
  • You can monitor your health, note any symptoms, and keep track of your medications at home using a health diary, which you can bring to appointments. Download a sample health diary that you can use at the bottom of this page.
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Bring Someone With You to Your Appointment

It’s a good idea for patients of any age to bring someone they trust with them to appointments. This person can provide emotional support, help you remember or take notes on what the doctor says, and keep track of questions you want to ask. If there’s a language barrier, the person can translate for you too. You both can talk over what information you might need to bring to the appointment such as a list of the doctors you have seen before, and the medications they prescribed you. You can also talk about what you learned after the appointment, such as the new doctors you might see, new health terms, or contact information for different agencies.

If you decide to bring someone with you, choose someone that you know and trust to protect your privacy and respect your decisions. Tell them in advance what you want them to do, such as take notes or just sit with you and listen.

See this page on How to Prepare for a Doctor’s Appointment from the National Institute on Aging to learn more about how to prepare to meet with your doctor.

If You Need Immediate Medical Assistance

If you are having an emergency, call 911 right away.

If you’re sick or injured but not afraid for your life, you can visit an Urgent Care clinicSome commercial pharmacies also offer walk-in clinics for minor illnesses and injuries. Call ahead to make sure the clinic accepts your health insurance. Be prepared to wait minutes to a few hours to be seen.

If you receive care at a non-IHS facility or at an IHS facility outside of your CHSDA, you must notify PRC within 72 hours and PRC must deem the care to have been medically necessary to cover the cost of your care. If you are age 65 or older, or you are physically or mentally disabled, you have up to 30 days to notify PRC of emergency care received at a non-IHS facility.

If You're Having Trouble Getting an Appointment

If you need a non-urgent appointment, be persistent and keep calling. Make sure you call during the provider’s business hours. If you get a voicemail message, it will usually include business hours. If you get a voicemail, clearly state your name and phone number, and say that you need to be seen immediately.

If you still can’t get an appointment, consider switching providers.

If you have a primary care provider, they can help you make an appointment with another provider or refer you to a new provider.

Healthcare Provider Issues

Issues can arise from communication challenges, feeling disrespected, or not feeling comfortable. You can switch providers for any reason, but if you prefer not to, you can talk to the provider directly, or to a staff member or the facility administrators. Remember: you are in charge of your health care and you have the right to ask for what you need.

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