Questions to ask your doctor
You’re armed with your notebook, you have taken the time to prepare for your appointment and now you’re seated in front of your doctor for your much anticipated meeting! Here are some general questions you should ask before the meeting is over, depending on your condition of course!
1. What is causing this to happen?
It is important to have an understanding of your condition and what is causing the problems you are having.
2. What are the risks of this medication/procedure?
It is good to find out the expected outcome of your doctor’s recommended course of treatment. If a certain drug or procedure is recommended, find out what are the risks and side effects, if any.
3. Why have you recommended this course of action?
It is absolutely critical to understand what medications you have been prescribed and why. Knowing how your doctor came to his recommendation gives you a better understanding of your condition as well.
4. Is this really necessary?/Are there other options?
Some procedures are not always necessary. It is wise to find out if the recommendation is necessary and if there are other, potentially less invasive, options you could try first such as lifestyle changes e.g. diet and exercise.
5. What happens if I don’t do anything?/ How long do I have to make this decision?
When making important decisions it is extremely helpful to understand the urgency of your problem. Is it a situation that is likely to improve with time? Is it a situation where every day counts and you need to act sooner rather than later?
6. How serious is this?
Sometimes in an effort not to scare us doctors may not be completely blunt about the severity of an illness. Asking how serious the condition is allows you to have a frank discussion and gives you the information you need to decide if you want to discuss the problem with your friends and family and seek their support.
7. What do I need to be mindful of at my age?
Find out what screening tests and self examinations you need to be doing at each stage of your life e.g. 20s, 30s, 40s etcetera. Ask what changes you should be expecting in your body as you transition from one decade to the next. It is entirely possible that something you have been brushing off as “a sign of the aging process” may actually be a symptom of an illness. This is also a good opportunity to find out if you are up to date on your vaccines.
8. When can I expect the results and how?
If the doctor tells you that some tests need to be run, be sure to ask how long the test results are expected to take and how you will find out about them. Will the office call you, should you call them, will a notification show up in your online record? There's nothing worse than waiting for a result and not knowing when and how you’ll receive it!
9. Do I need to follow up? When?
Before you leave the doctor’s office find out if you need to schedule a follow up visit and if so, in how long.
10. Is there anything else I should be thinking about?
This is a good question to ask to ensure that neither you, nor your doctor has missed any other helpful points that you may want to consider as you try to make the best decision for your care.
If this has been helpful please let me know :-)
See you in the cafe next week!