What you should know before your next trip to the doctor

So many questions! Can I see your ID? Are you taking any new medications? Do you have a family history of cancer or heart disease? 

Before your next doctor’s visit or trip to the hospital, you should know you’ll be asked a lot of questions. Here, Northside Hospital providers Dr. Daniel McMahon and Dana Hickman answer the “why” behind some of the questions you’ll get during your appointment. 

What is a medicine reconciliation?

Medicine reconciliation is the process of creating an accurate and complete list of all medications (prescriptions) AND supplements you are taking. The list must include the drug name, dosage, frequency and route (how you take it). 

Why is this list important? Health care providers compare the list against your current provider’s orders and your medication history. The goal is to ensure we’re giving you the correct medication and avoiding omissions, duplication and drug interactions, while also making sure you still need to take each medication. 

A medication reconciliation should be done every time you see a health care provider and there is the possibility of a new medication being prescribed or an existing order being renewed. 

Studies have shown about two-thirds of all patients are unable to provide a medication list that matches their pharmacy-prescribed and -filled prescriptions. This doesn’t take into account any over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements you take, which greatly influence your provider’s ability to make the best recommendations for your ongoing care. 

It is estimated that more than 40% of medication errors result from an inaccurate home medicine list, most often affected by omitted medications or inaccurate dosages. 

Do you really need my photo ID?

We absolutely do. It is not uncommon to have two patients with the same name and birthdate. Showing your photo ID ensures we have the correct medical record. In some cases, a provider will take a picture of all new patients for their medical record. This also helps to protect each patient against medical identity theft. 

Why do I fill out a medical history form?

A lot can happen in a year. If you only see your provider once a year, you might forget something. Completing a medical history form can assist you in remembering and identifying past medical changes. 

This information can unveil significant chronic illnesses and other prior disease states, which may or may not be under current treatment but could have a significant impact on your health. Your medical history also may help us develop a differential diagnosis, the process of identifying two or more different (but similar) conditions that share similar signs and symptoms. 

We recognize that families share genetic makeups, environments and lifestyles. Including a close family medical history helps to provide insight into medical conditions that may run in your family. 

Noticing health concerns and understanding patterns of diseases or disorders will make a diagnosis more likely, which is particularly important in catching something harmful early.


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Dr. Daniel McMahon picture

Dr. Daniel McMahon

Specialties: Family Medicine

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Dr. McMahon is a board-certified physician in family medicine at Northside Primary Care Associates. He specializes in primary care, including chronic disease management, preventive testing and monitoring, acute illness and injury management.

Dana Hickman picture

Dana Hickman

Specialties: Advanced Practice Nurse

Dana Hickman is a post-acute care nurse practitioner at Northside Hospital. 

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