Prepare before medical appointments

Published 12:01am Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Is it that time again? Time to go see your family physician or medical specialist for a check-up or to get answers regarding a health issue?

Or, maybe you are having a medical emergency that requires a trip to your local emergency department. Either way, there is something you need to know that will help things go smoother and more efficiently for both you and the health care professionals you are about to encounter.

Your medical history is a very important aspect of your health care.

Most of you know that it is important to provide information regarding the medications that you take when you go to a new doctor or to the hospital. But, what you may not realize is just how important it is to provide complete, accurate information not only to health care providers that are new to you, but also to the ones that take care of you on a regular basis.

Taking the wrong medications or even the right medications if taken inappropriately ,account for a large percentage of hospital admissions.

The best way to ensure that everyone is on the same page in managing medications appropriately is to bring the actual medications with you every time that you seek health care. Lists are great, but not always updated.

Medications tell the real story, so bring them with you every time.

If you are on Medicare, there is something else of which you should be aware. If you are admitted to the hospital as an “observation” patient (meaning you will possibly be discharged within 24 hours), Medicare expects you to take your own home medications.

During your stay as an observation patient, Medicare will pay the hospital for any IV medications you require.

However, Medicare does not pay for any other medications that you previously took at home.

For this reason, it is imperative that you bring your home medications with you to the hospital.

Upon admission to the hospital, the pharmacy will verify your medications, and they will be returned to the nursing unit.

The nurse will administer your medications during your stay and they will be returned to you when you are discharged to go home. The hospital is required to follow these Medicare guidelines, and this is actually more cost effective for the patient, as the cost of medications in the hospital setting usually far exceeds the cost of your prescription from home.

In these times of uncertainty and change in health care, it is important that you take an active role in your personal health needs.


1.) Ask questions and listen for the answers.

2.) Know your medications and the purpose of each.

3.) Bring your medications to every doctor visit or hospital stay.

4.) Don’t come without your meds, and don’t leave without them.

5.) Pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you, and report changes to your health care providers.

Help us, help you.

You hold the key to optimum health for yourself while your hospital and your physician are prepared to help guide the process.


Patricia H. Marks, RN, is the accreditation and education coordinator at Natchez Regional Medical Center.



  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the great article. Good info that we all need to remember and put into use.

  • Anonymous

    The last time I was there I got a staph infection and almost died. My Mother was dying of metastatic liver cancer at another hospital. An addict nurse was taking her pain meds and substituting tylenol for her. My Mom suffered egregiously. I do not trust nurses to hold my meds.

  • Anonymous

    Since I do not take drugs other than those prescribed, shouldn’t the physician have the dosage info in his file?

  • Anonymous

    One would hope so.