If you are looking for a doctor for yourself or for a family member, the El Camino Health Line advisors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, either by phone or online. You can feel free to request a physician by specialty, location or other criteria. If a particular doctor stands out, you have the option, during regular business hours, to be immediately connected to the doctor's office, making setting up an appointment even easier. You may call our Health Line at 800-216-5556.
Eldercare consultants in our Family/Caregiver and Senior Assistance program can help you find physicians in other states.
Visits with Your Doctor
The most important thing to remember is that you must be an active member of your healthcare team. If you are a family member or caregiver for an older family member, you may need to take an active role in managing healthcare. Doctors now recognize that caregivers are part of the patient's healthcare team. To get the best quality healthcare, work together with your doctor and other healthcare providers to make decisions about your or your family member's care. Learn as much as possible about your health conditions by using quality health information and by asking your doctor questions. The Health Library and Resource Center provides books, videos and on-line information for your use as well as access to Health Librarians who will assist you in finding health information. Remember, an informed patient is a healthier patient!
To make your doctor's visit most productive, the best strategy is to be prepared. Here are a few suggestions to help you make the most of your visit.
Make a list of all your questions. Keep a list by your phone or on your refrigerator so that you can jot down questions that come to mind on a daily basis. Before your visit, prioritize the list, placing the most important questions first, and make a copy of the list for your doctor. If a family member accompanies you to the doctor, make sure they have a list also or help you make your list. Give as much information as you can:
- What are your symptoms--for example, back pain
- Be as specific as possible: e.g., sharp pain on the right side of my lower back.
- How often and when does the pain occur? Is it constant or only at night?
- How long have you had the pain?
- How is the pain affecting your daily activities?
- Have you done anything to alleviate the pain, such as take aspirin, take hot baths, etc.?
Make an updated list of all your medications. The list should include the names of the medications, the doses, how often you take them and the name of the doctor who prescribed them. Sometimes, one doctor doesn't know that another doctor has prescribed another medication. Also, be sure to include non-prescription medications, including herbal remedies, nutritional supplements and vitamins. You can use our Universal Medication Form to assist you.
Ask questions about your medications and report any side effects, such as drowsiness, nausea or dizziness, that you may be experiencing. Some questions you might ask include:
- What is this medication supposed to do?
- How do I take this medication, such as with food or on an empty stomach?
- Will this medication interfere with the other medications that I am taking?
- Are there any foods or beverages I should not take with it?
- What are the side effects and what should I do if they occur?
You can also consult your pharmacist about medication questions or call El Camino Hospital's Ask the Pharmacist service to schedule a free 30-minute appointment at 650-940-7210.
Keep all of your doctor appointments. Research has shown that many hospital admissions are avoidable if patients report symptoms to their primary care physician in a timely manner and if they take their medications correctly. Don't hesitate to report any concerns that you have about your health or questions about your medications. Do not make decisions about medicines on your own. Suddenly stopping some medicines can be very dangerous.
If you are a caregiver and/or family member, it is very helpful to attend all doctor appointments with your older family member, if they are agreeable. Another set of eyes and ears is always useful and you can record what the doctor says for your family member so that they can read it later. Also, you have some caregiver questions of your own that you would like to ask the doctor. If your family member has Medicare, you can also ask the doctor if he or she could prescribe a Home Safety Evaluation. A physical or occupational therapist will evaluate the home for safety hazards and make recommendations that can improve the safety and comfort for your older family member and you.
Universal Medication Record Form, Available in English and Spanish
Choosing a Doctor, National Institute on Aging
Talking with Your Doctor: A Guide for Older People, National Institute on Aging
Speak Up: Tips for Your Doctor's Visit, The Joint Commission
Speak Up: Help avoid mistakes with your medicines, The Joint Commission
An Educated Patient is a Healthier Patient (Microsoft Word document)
Information and Questions for Your Doctor (Microsoft Word document)