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Preparation for a First Meeting

As we learn from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, it is (truly) best to start at the beginning.  The provider should collect what medical history is available, from the many providers s/he has seen, and review them.  This can be a time-consuming undertaking but can pay off in a better and more thorough understanding of the patient's issues and the medical journey s/he has followed.  On the one hand, reviewing the material in advance of the patient's initial visit can make that visit more productive, productive enough for a comprehensive management plan to be developed.  On the other hand, patients or families may be fearful that the written biases and confusion of past providers might jaundice the perspective of a new primary provider, and they may seek an initial meeting just to become acquainted so the doctor meets a patient or family in need and not "the entire case including past baggage."  This is a wise approach, even if it means an extra introductory visit with the patient or family.  It can reduce a family's anxiety about taking on yet one more provider, and allow a more personal bond to develop between patient and doctor before the multiple medical details are addressed.

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