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To help your healthcare provider deal promptly with your concerns you should bring with you any pertinent medical documents you have.

If you have been to the emergency room or other doctors for this problem, their reports are important.

If you have had laboratory tests or other such information, have them sent, have the doctor’s secretary obtain and send them, or bring the results to the doctor yourself. In the case of relevant x-rays or electrocardiograms, you should bring the actual pictures or tracings as well as the reports. Otherwise, valuable time will be lost while the doctor tracks down this information.

If another doctor refers you, do not assume he or she will automatically send this material. You can check this out beforehand through the referring doctor’s secretary.


One doctor should be in charge of your total medical care and records. Normally this is your family doctor or internist (primary care doctor). He or she should make (or know of) all referrals, and should write referral notes that state the problems the specialists are to address.

You should insist that each consultant send his or her report to your primary care doctor indicating the diagnosis, recommended tests, and treatments, and who is responsible for them. This ensures that your doctor has your complete record and permits him or her to supervise your overall care.


In modern medical practice, a shortage of doctors and economic reality contrive to limit the time healthcare providers have to see patients. Timeliness and a concise statement of the main problem(s) along with a clear history of these problems can save time for the essentials.

These should be verbal, but pertinent lists of medications, previous illnesses, and sensitivities can go directly into the records without the need for transcription.

Ensure at the time of the visit that your doctor has vital information for the problem including x-rays, electrocardiograms, lab results, and reports of previous health encounters such as the emergency department.

Attention to such details and ensuring their communication can help your healthcare provider help you. 

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