When you make an appointment with the doctor, you’re usually so focused on creating something wrong with you or getting the work over that you don’t think about documenting your experience. But keeping good documentation is vital if you want to get the most out of your meetings and ensure you’re protected against insufficient care.
There are several strong motivations for consistently documenting your healthcare appointments:
- Protection against medical negligence. Medical negligence could happen to anybody, resulting in a worsened condition or additional harm through no fault of your own. If you feel you’ve been the victim of medical negligence, it’s important to speak to a lawyer, but it’s vital to prove causation, which can be tough in almost all cases. Taking notes and documenting all your appointments can arm you with the necessary information should you ever be the victim of negligence.
- Reminders on instructions and advice. In most appointments, you’ll receive advice or instructions on what to do next. That might include lifestyle changes to reduce your vulnerability to different conditions or specific points on how and when to take your medication. Even if you have a great memory, you can forget (or misremember) these instructions. Taking notes during your appointments and keeping a log of your healthcare events can help you remember accurately.
- Symptom and condition tracking. You can use your charges and the time between meetings to acknowledge your symptoms’ severity and frequency and see how you improve over time. Keeping notes on all your appointments is also valuable if you have a chronic or long-term condition and want to track your progress.
- Timing and scheduling. Depending on your age, it’s probably a good idea to see your doctor once or multiple times a year. Documenting your visits is a good way to ensure you hit those benchmarks; you can confidently say when you last visited the doctor and create a new appointment according to that information.
How to Document Your Appointments
Those motivations sound solid, but how are you supposed to document your visits?
Let’s start by defining the key points you should be documenting:
- Date and time of the visit. For scheduling purposes and more detailed records, take note of the date and time of your visit. It’s a simple but important step, especially if you will eventually manage information from multiple appointments.
- Location, practitioner, and overall experience. While at it, write down notes about your overall experience—like whether the doctor was listening intently or rushing through their appointments for the day. If you’re visiting multiple sites or seeing various providers, you must note which people were taking care of you at this appointment.
- What the doctor told you. Take notes on how the conversation between you and your doctor went, including which details you provided to them and what they responded to within the kind. The doctor’s disposition and advice can majorly affect your improvement (or lack thereof).
- Follow-up items and instructions. Doctors’ teachings can be easily misinterpreted, so try to write them down or record them as accurately as possible so you can refer to them in the future as if the doctor just told you. You should also refer to this if you follow the instructions but still see no improvement.
As for how you record those details, you have several options:
- Notes. Sometimes, the easiest way to document your experience is also the best. Take notes about your appointment when you schedule and participate in it. Your doctor will likely appreciate the extra effort.
- Recordings. If you have permission to do so, consider recording your conversation with your doctor. This makes it much easier to revisit any instructions or advice you receive. It serves as aisally flawless evidence if you ever have to use it in a medical negligence claim.
- Medical records. You’re allowed to request copies of your medical records at any time. Do so if you’d like to get information as the hospital or practice recorded it.
- Journaling. Consider keeping a journal for more details as you progress through various stages of your condition and health. You can track your appointments and your symptoms and your subjective feelings on those events and symptoms.
Use some or all of these options to keep track of your healthcare visits and treatments. It may seem like a pain at the moment, taking more time than it’s worth, but you’ll see the benefit someday—whether you need to take action on an instance of medical negligence or you’re just interested to see what kind of progress you’ve made.