What is a Medical Interview?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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A medical interview is a tool used by a doctor to determine areas of attention needed for a new patient. The patient will be asked a battery of questions during the medical interview, such as childhood diseases, allergies and prior medical procedures. Most doctors will request a family medical history in the medical interview. Problems such as heart disease and cancer are often hereditary, so the information is used as a diagnostic tool to identify potential issues. Another benefit of the medical interview is that doctors and patient begin to build a rapport and become more at ease when they communicate with each other.

Typically conducted at the first meeting with the patient, the doctor will explain the purpose of the medical interview. The doctor may have a nurse or an assistant write notes and document all patient responses. An informal type of medical interview is conducted with patients during initial or emergency room doctor visits. This informal interview consists of the patient answering a battery of questions by placing check marks by certain printed questions. This gives the doctor an insight into any potential drug restrictions or peculiarities the patient may have.


Much in the same manner that a mechanic will ask how a vehicle was running prior to breaking down, a doctor will often ask how a patient was feeling prior to the onset of an illness. Any information will be taken into consideration as an attempt to diagnose the reason for the visit. All information given during a medical interview should be as honest and accurate as possible. If the answer to any question is unclear or questionable, the doctor will work with a patient to clarify. This information could be the difference between a speedy recovery or a lengthy stay in the hospital.

When scheduling an initial visit with a doctor, patients should gather all health history information in advance of the appointment. Bringing a list of a patient's medications, supplements and vitamins taken as well as a written list of past medical procedures eases the pressure of trying to recall this information on the spot. Patients should disclose all past and present illnesses, no matter if they seem trivial, in the medical interview. The doctor will decide what is useful or pertinent information for a particular diagnosis. Also, a list of prior medical provider names, addresses and phone numbers will aid the new doctor in requesting past medical records.



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