Preparing for an Office Visit

Your visit with an orthopaedic surgeon is an important meeting that can be most effective if you plan ahead. It's important that you give your doctor the information he or she needs and that you understand what your doctor is recommending. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care get better results. Lack of communication is a primary reason for medical errors. The following checklist will help you and your doctor discuss the issues most important for getting the most out of the visit.

Before the Visit

  • Find out the basics about the office. Where is it? What time should you arrive? If you're going to drive, where can you park? Do you need to bring your insurance card or a managed care medical referral?
  • Find out from your insurance company what your co-pay will be and prepare to bring payment with you. Offices will collect your co-pay upon check-in, so have it ready.
  • Schedule your appointment by phone or online. If possible, fill out the Medical History Form (PDF) and give it to the receptionist when you come to see the doctor.
  • Assemble your records such as relevant medical records from other physicians; results and copies of X-rays; and other imaging studies and lab tests and personally take the records to the doctor's office.
  • Make written lists of: Medications, herbs, vitamin supplements and over-the-counter medications you are taking. Your medical history, such as prior treatments for heart or thyroid problems or operations, even those not related to your current problem. Your concerns about your condition (pains, loss of mobility or function). All questions you may have.
  • Consider asking a friend or family member to accompany you. If you need a translator, ask another adult to come with you; don't rely on a child to translate.
  • Dress appropriately. For spine and many problems involving the arms and legs, you may be asked to disrobe. Wear loose clothing that's easy to take off and put on.

Day of Your Visit

  • Arrive early so you can complete any required forms or tests before meeting with your doctor. You may fill out the Medical History Form (PDF) before arriving. Be prepared to provide your Insurance Card, Co-Pay and ID at check-in.
  • Be honest and complete in talking with your doctor. Share your point of view and don't hold back information about issues such as incontinence, memory loss, sex, or other issues that you might consider embarrassing.
  • Stick to the point. It might be fun to share news about the children, but keep it short to get the most out of your time with the doctor.
  • Take notes on what the doctor tells you, and ask questions if you don't understand a medical term, the reason for the doctor's recommendations or the instructions for taking medication.
  • Ask what to expect from your treatment, what effect it will have on your daily activities and what you can do to prevent further disability.
  • Ask your doctor for handouts or brochures that you and your family members can review at home. Your doctor may refer you to an Internet web site for more information.
  • Talk to the other members of the health care team, too, such as physician assistants, nurses or therapists (speech, physical or occupational) to address any questions or concerns.

Following Your Visit

  • Review the materials the doctor gave you. If you can't remember something, or if you don't understand your notes, call the office and speak to a member of your health care team.
  • Follow the doctor's instructions. Take the full course of medication and make sure you follow the prescribed diet or exercise routine. Remember, you're a part of your health care team too.
  • Keep your doctor informed of any changes in your condition.
  • Follow up with your doctor on test results, adverse reactions to medication, or any complications or worsening of your condition.

Questions to ask at the visit or later, if your doctor recommends surgery

  • Why is this procedure being recommended?
  • Are there alternatives?
  • What are the benefits of this procedure in terms of pain relief, functioning/mobility?
  • How long will the benefit last?
  • What are the risks involved?
  • What is the success rate for this procedure?
  • What is the procedure called?
  • How is it done?
  • Will the surgery need to be repeated after a certain amount of time?
  • How many of these procedures are annually performed at this hospital?
  • What percentage of patients improve following the procedure?
  • What will happen if I don't have the surgery now?
  • If I want a second opinion, whom can I consult?
  • Will my doctor perform the operation or someone else?
  • If someone else, when can I meet him or her?
  • Is the doctor board-certified?
  • How many similar procedures have been done by my doctor (or whoever will perform the procedure)?
  • What are the outcomes?
  • Will I need any tests or medical evaluations prior to the surgery?
  • What kind of anesthesia will be used? Are there possible after effects or risks?
  • Will I meet with the anesthesiologist in advance?
  • Will he or she know my needs/allergies?
  • What kind of implant or prosthesis will be used?
  • What are the outcomes using this device?
  • How long will it last?
  • Will I have pain following the procedure?
  • What pain relief or pain control measures will I be given?
  • How long will the recovery take?
  • What are my limitations during recovery?
  • Will I need assistance at home afterwards?
  • For how long?
  • What will discharge instructions be?
  • Will I have any disability following surgery?
  • Will I need physical therapy?
  • When can I return to work?
  • When can I drive my car?
  • When can I have sexual activity?
  • Are there any written materials or videotapes about this surgery that I can review?

As the patient, you should request and/or confirm that the surgeon will preoperatively confirm and mark the surgical site.

Tucson Orthopaedic Institute - East Office
5301 E. Grant Road
Tucson, Arizona 85712
Phone: (520) 784-6200
Fax: (520) 784-6187
Monday – Friday: 8 am – 5 pm
Tucson Orthopaedic Institute - Northwest Office
6320 N. La Cholla Blvd., Suite 200
Tucson, Arizona 85741
Phone: (520) 382-8200
Fax: (520) 297-3505
Monday – Friday: 8 am – 5 pm
Tucson Orthopaedic Institute - Oro Valley Office
1521 E. Tangerine Road, Suite 101
Oro Valley, Arizona 85755
Phone: (520) 544-9700
Fax: (520) 618-6060
Monday – Friday: 8 am – 5 pm