Having a primary care -doctor, or Primary care provider (PCP), is part of living a healthy life. Your PCP is often a doctor [a medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathy (DO)].He or she may also be a nurse practitioner (NP) or a physician assistant (PA).1
Your PCP should know you and your health the best. They can help you by suggesting when you need routine care, tests and help you see specialist doctors if you need to. They can also help you get X-rays, lab tests or more, if you need it.
Your PCP keeps your medical record, which shows your history of care. That means he or she knows when you get things like your flu shot, tests, or if you’re taking medicines. That way, he or she can give you the best care when you're sick. It can also help your PCP work with you to stay healthy as you get older.
Carrying an emergency information card with important health information on it is a good thing to do. The card lists things like medicines you take, any allergies or conditions like diabetes, cancer or high blood pressure. You can also put your PCP's name and phone number on the card. That way, your PCP will be called if you have an emergency. He or she can then help make sure you get the best care.
You may feel more comfortable talking with family or friends – but you may feel nervous or rushed when talking to your PCP. But there are things that can make talking with your PCP easier:
You might hear questions like:
If you need help or if you're too sick to think, have a friend or family member go with you. It can be a good idea to take notes on anything the PCP says, especially if he or she tells you to do something.
When you're going to your PCP for well exams (like your yearly physical or Pap test), you should talk to them about your health since your last saw him or her. Your PCP will need to know things like:
It can also be hard to understand what your PCP asks you to do after your visit. So, before you leave your doctor's office, make sure you know:2
There's nothing wrong with writing questions down either. And don't be afraid to ask. That's what your PCP is there for. If you are confused, ask these three questions from the National Patient Safety Foundation:3
Your PCP is there to help you get healthy and stay healthy. Talking with your PCP in an open and honest way can help you stay healthy because you’re both working together.
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