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Questions to Ask Your Doctor

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Questions to Ask Your Doctor

A good relationship between you and your doctor is an important part of good health care. You must be able to communicate well with each other so that your needs are met. Since you will likely have about 15 minutes with your doctor, you want to be prepared with the right questions to ask. Here are links to different categories of questions for reference.

  • Ask your doctor about the immunizations you should have and take action to ensure your immunizations are current.
  • Discuss your risk of getting certain health conditions. What lifestyle choices and changes might you need to make to lower your risks or prevent illness?
  • Speak to your doctor about appropriate health screenings according to age, weight, and heredity and obtain regular screenings for such conditions as high/low blood pressure, high/low blood cholesterol, high/low blood sugar, etc.
  • Be familiar with, and regularly practice, self-examinations to detect skin cancer, and breast or testicular cancer.
  • Ask about the risks and benefits of tests and treatments. Tell your doctor what you like and dislike about your choices for care.
  • Make sure you understand and can follow your doctor's instructions. You may want to bring another person along or take notes to help you remember things.
  • Do I need testing? If so, what? How much do these tests cost? How much will my health plan pay?
  • How often should I have these tests? Should I call to schedule the test or will the doctor's office do it for me?
  • How do I prepare for any tests I may need? When and how will I get my test results?
  • What will today's office visit cost me?
  • Will there be fees for other services?
  • Why do I need to take this particular medication?
  • What is the name of the drug? Is there a generic alternative?
  • How and when should I take it?
  • Are their foods, drinks, or other things I should avoid while taking this medication?
  • What should I do if I forget to take it?
  • What are the known side effects? Is this drug known to cause birth defects? (Important for women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.)
  • How long will I need to take this medicine?
  • How will this medicine interact with other drugs I am currently taking?
  • Are there any non-drug measures that work as well?
  • Should I see a specialist?
  • Can you recommend a specialist? Is he or she board certified?
  • Does the specialist work out of more than one office?
  • How soon should I be seen by a specialist?
  • What if I can't get an appointment for a month or more? Should I see someone else?
  • What's wrong with me?
  • What treatment should I follow, including medical treatment or dietary and lifestyle changes?
  • What are the risks?
  • What medicines are you giving me? What are they for?
  • How should I expect to feel during treatment? What side effects, if any, can I expect to have?
  • How will this problem affect me in the future?
  • Where can I find emotional support for myself and my family?
  • How can I expect this to affect my marriage and other intimate relationships?
  • Are there clinical trials I could participate in?
  • Do I need surgery at this time?
  • Who will perform the surgery? How many times has this surgeon performed the procedure?
  • When should I have this surgery?
  • Do I have any alternative options or non-surgical alternatives? (Ask about minimally invasive procedures versus major ones.)
  • Do I have choices outside of surgery?
  • What are the benefits of this surgery?
  • What are the risks?
  • Where will I have this surgery?
  • Can I have surgery as an out-patient?
  • Where can I get a second opinion?

The Agency for Healthcare and Research Quality also lists several Questions To Ask Your Doctor Before You Have Surgery.

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